Calculating a pain and suffering settlement in North Carolina can be a daunting task. The process of determining liability and the amount of damages is often complex.
Pain and suffering settlements are also subjective, which is what can lead to varying values.
As the injured victim, you obviously think your pain and suffering is significantly higher than what the defendant’s insurance company believes it’s worth.
If you have questions about evaluating pain and suffering damages, contact the North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC.
Our lawyers have significant experience representing injured victims in personal injury lawsuits. We can review your case and help you understand your potential settlement value.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about damages and examples of pain and suffering.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
The concept of pain and suffering damages is a form of non-economic compensation. It’s intended to compensate for the physical and emotional distress caused by a defendant’s actions.
These damages can include things such as physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship. You might also hear pain and suffering referred to as general damages.
Methods Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering Settlements
Insurance companies typically use one of two methods when calculating a potential settlement for pain and suffering. These are the multiplier method and the per diem method.
Both approaches have their own set of pros and cons. It’s essential to understand the differences between the two to clearly understand how the insurance adjuster might calculate your case value.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is widely used for calculating pain and suffering damages.
In this method, the insurance adjuster determines the total amount of your medical expenses and multiplies that total by a number between 1 and 5.
The number chosen as the multiplier is based on the severity of the injuries and the impact of the injury on your life.
For example, your injuries are minor, and you fully recover within three months. In this situation, the multiplier might be on the lower end, such as 1 or 2.
However, if your injuries are more severe and involve a longer recovery period, you might use a higher multiplier, such as 3 or 4.
In the most severe cases, where the injuries result in catastrophic damage or death, the multiplier would be 5.
For example, if your medical expenses amount to $100,000 and the multiplier is 4, your potential pain and suffering damages would be $400,000 for a case value of around $500,000.
Some insurance adjusters will include loss of earnings with medical expenses before multiplying, while others add lost wages after calculating the value of general damages.
The Per Diem Method
The per diem method is another option for calculating pain and suffering damages, but it is less commonly used.
In this method, the insurance adjuster calculates the daily rate of income you earned before the accident and multiplies that amount by the number of days you were unable to work due to your injuries.
For example, if you earned $200 a day and couldn’t work for 60 days, general damages would be $12,000. If you were unable to work for 120 days, the general damages would be $24,000.
Adjusters must consider all types of income the victim received before the accident when using the per diem method.
This income includes hourly wages, salary, tips, bonuses, and other income sources. The more evidence you have to support your wage loss, the better.
This can include copies of pay stubs, tax returns, retirement account statements, and other financial documentation. It’s also essential to consider the loss of other benefits, such as retirement benefits, health insurance, and any other employee perks.
Adjusters sometimes use the per diem method to calculate future general damages. If you cannot work for an extended period, the adjuster might apply a daily rate to future earnings.
For example, your doctor expects you to be out of work for eight months. The per diem method can calculate a daily rate for those eight months.
However, this method is considered less favorable, as it may not account for the full extent of your pain and suffering.
What to Know About Calculating Pain and Suffering Settlements
It’s important to note that both the multiplier and per diem methods have limitations and may not accurately reflect the actual value of a victim’s pain and suffering.
Therefore, we recommend consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC can help you understand the nuances of the settlement calculation process.
We will fight to ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries and losses.
Additionally, your attorney can assist in presenting evidence to support your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and, if necessary, proceed to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
In most cases, North Carolina law doesn’t cap the pain and suffering damages you can receive.
However, if you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you might be subject to a damages cap that is reviewed and adjusted for inflation every three years.
There is an exception to the cap where the judge or jury finds the defendant’s actions grossly negligent, reckless, intentional, fraudulent, or malicious.
If such actions resulted in disfigurement, loss of use of a body part, permanent injury, or death, the damages cap doesn’t apply.
Contact a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC
Calculating a pain and suffering settlement in North Carolina can be complex. Understanding how insurance adjusters calculate these types of settlements is crucial, so you know what to expect.
Rather than try to handle negotiating a pain and suffering settlement independently, let an experienced personal injury lawyer help.
Our lawyers have decades of combined experience assisting injured victims in maximizing their pain and suffering settlements.
Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Let us review your case and help you calculate a potential settlement range for your pain and suffering damages.