How To Calculate Pain & Suffering Damages in North Carolina
An injury in an accident does more than cost victims money in the form of medical bills or lost wages. Victims also suffer a drop in their quality of life due to pain, inconvenience, and mental anguish.
These types of losses are difficult to express in dollars and cents; nevertheless, they are very real.
At Dawson & Albritton, we help clients fully understand how much their injuries are worth. This means we add up special damages but also analyze how much they can receive in pain and suffering.
Special damages are those which compensate you for expenses you’ve already paid and costs you may face in the future. For example, special damages can include compensation for medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Special damages are usually easier to calculate than pain and suffering because there are tangible costs associated with them.
Conversely, pain and suffering damages (also called general damages) are difficult to calculate. These damages should cover you for the intangible harm you’ve experienced. Intangible harm could include mental distress, the emotional trauma of a physical disability, or a loss of enjoyment of life.
WHAT MIGHT AN NC PAIN AND SUFFERING SETTLEMENT BE BASED ON?
In North Carolina, several factors may impact the assessment of general damages. An NC pain and suffering settlement could be based on any or all of the following
1. How Severe Your Injury is
All NC pain and suffering settlements will generally consider the severity of your injuries. You will likely be awarded more general damages the more severe your injury is.
2. How Your Daily Life is Affected
If your life has significantly changed because of your injury, you’ll be entitled to greater pain and suffering damages. For example, if you have a permanent injury that will affect your mobility, you may receive higher general damages.
3. How Your Injuries Took a Toll on Your Mental Health
All serious accidents cause stress and anxiety, and you may be experiencing even more significant mental health issues because of your injuries. Your pain and suffering award should factor this in.
Although these factors can help guide an average pain and suffering settlement, the specific amount is calculated under one of two methods.
Below, we’ll take a look at different methods of calculating the amount of these general damages.
This is probably the easiest method to understand. You add up your economic losses—medical bills, lost wages, etc.—and multiply by a certain number, usually 1 to 5.
Using this type of pain and suffering calculator in North Carolina involves analyzing how much pain and inconvenience your injuries have caused.
Generally, if you suffered life-changing injuries like spinal cord damage or an amputation, you will use 5 as your multiplier. If you suffered temporary soft-tissue injuries, like a strain or sprain, you multiply by 1 or 2.
One exception is for visible disfigurement like a scar on your face. Although it might heal in a week, it can cause intense emotional distress, so you would use a higher multiplier generally.
Although this method seems straightforward, it is not an exact science. The multiplier will depend on the factors discussed above, but there are no average pain and suffering settlements, as each case is highly individual and specific.
Per Diem Method
This method asks a jury to award a victim a certain amount for each day that he or she has suffered pain or other inconvenience stemming from the accident.
The amount must be based on something, and many attorneys will use the amount you make each day. So if you get paid $200 a day, a lawyer might ask for $200 that you still feel pain from the accident.
Here is an example:
You break a bone and suffer other soft-tissue injuries, leaving you in pain for around 2 months, or 60 days.
Your lawyer recommends you get $200 a day, which translates into $12,000 in pain and suffering damages. North Carolina law explicitly allows a victim to argue that a jury should use the per diem method in court.
Maximizing Your Pain and Suffering Compensation
Many people do not receive the full amount of pain and suffering that they deserve because they do not fully document their suffering. Jurors tend to be skeptical about pain and suffering because they can’t see it. They can see an arm in a cast, but they tend to assume victims are exaggerating how much pain they are in.
There are steps you can take to help your case:
- Hold onto all prescription drug bottles for painkillers.
- Speak to your treating physician about any mental health issues you are having.
- If you feel you would benefit, get a referral for a mental health professional, such as a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
- If you receive medication for emotional distress, like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, hold onto that.
- Keep a journal in which you document your physical pain and emotions on a daily basis.
Contact an Attorney for Help
Pain and suffering can make up a large portion of any settlement. We have seen too many people leave money on the table, so let us help you build your case the correct way. Contact an attorney at Dawson & Albritton today for a free consultation.