If you sustain severe injuries in an accident, chances are you may experience physical or emotional distress during recovery. In Indiana, plaintiffs may pursue compensation for their pain and suffering in the form of damages. However, you may be wondering, How do you calculate pain and suffering?
Let’s take a look at how a personal injury attorney may calculate your pain and suffering depending on your situation.
Damages Available in Indiana
In personal injury cases, there are three types of damages available for victims to pursue: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Each category has an effect on the total settlement amount and requires different types of evidence.
These damages compensate the plaintiff for any calculable losses from their injuries. This includes any monetary losses, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and more.
Also known as general damages, non-economic damages are any non-calculable losses sustained by the plaintiff. In other words, these damages are intangible and highly subjective. Pain and suffering falls into the category of non-economic damages.
These types of damages are awarded only in cases where the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for extremely reckless misconduct.
Popular Pain and Suffering Calculation Methods in Indiana
While methods vary between attorneys, many use the multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering for their clients. The multiplier is usually a number between one and five depending on the severity of the injury. Your attorney will multiply that number by the amount of your economic damages. Consider the following example:
Susan gets into a car accident and suffers permanent paralysis in her lower body. Her economic damages amount to nearly $1,000,000. Susan was a competitive swimmer, so in addition to losing the ability to walk, she can no longer participate in this activity. Because of Susan’s significant losses, her attorney pursues a pain and suffering multiplier of five. Susan and her lawyer decide to sue the defendant for $6,000,000 total, which includes $1,000,000 in economic damages and $5,000,000 in non-economic damages.
One thing to keep in mind is that some cases may use a multiplier higher than five, especially if the injury results in total disability. However, keep in mind that the State of Indiana caps the amount of damages for some types of cases. For example, under IC 34-18-14-3, a plaintiff may not recover more than $1.8 million for an act of medical malpractice that occurs after June 30, 2019.
Do Online Indiana Pain and Suffering Calculators Really Give Accurate Settlement Estimates?
No, Indiana pain and suffering calculators do not give accurate estimates. Since every person has unique circumstances, it is impossible for a calculator to determine an estimate that matches your case. The best way to find an accurate estimate for your settlement is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
How Much Is My Pain and Suffering Worth?
The value of your pain and suffering depends on several factors. Since there is no objective way to determine pain and suffering, the jury usually decides whether to award pain and suffering based on the following:
- The type of injury sustained by the plaintiff,
- The type of medication required to treat the injury,
- The effect of the injury on the plaintiff’s quality of life,
- The length of the plaintiff’s recovery, and
- The strength of the evidence provided.
While these aren’t the only factors that the jury may take into consideration, they are a major part of their calculation. Here’s an example from a 2001 Indiana case where the jury awarded pain and suffering damages.
On May 6, 1995, trucker Jerry Stanton made a delivery to Kroger’s Indianapolis Distribution Center. Before leaving, he decided to take a break and parked his tractor trailer next to another parked trailer. A Kroger employee, Ira Ritter, began backing up a tractor into the parked trailer without looking, pinning Stanton between her vehicle and the trailer. He suffered devastating injuries, including a pelvic fracture, broken ribs, lung contusions, internal bleeding, and hemorrhagic shock. Stanton sued Ritter for more than $65 million in damages.
When the case went to trial, the jury determined that Stanton was 20% at fault for the accident and awarded him $55 million in damages. There are several reasons why the jury awarded such a large amount. First, the doctors who testified for Stanton said it was the most severe injury they’d ever seen in their careers. Second, Stanton had to be resuscitated several times over the first month of recovery and developed respiratory distress syndrome. Finally, due to Stanton’s injuries, he could no longer participate in any outdoor activities that he used to enjoy. Based on these circumstances, the jury found Stanton’s award justified.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
Generally, the best way to prove pain and suffering after an injury is to document it. There are a few ways you can do this depending on your circumstances:
- Keep a diary. Make sure to mention any of the difficulties you experience due to your injury, including changes in mood, excessive pain, or trouble performing daily activities.
- Visit a therapist. Seeing a mental health professional is a good way to document changes in your state of mind after the injury.
- Mention difficulties to your doctor. If your injury prevents you from getting sleep, performing basic tasks, or enjoying life, tell your doctor, so they make a note in your medical record.
These are just a few ways of documenting your pain and suffering. If you have trouble writing it down on your own, try asking family members or friends to provide their own testimony.
How Can an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
Instead of relying on an Indiana pain and suffering calculator, it’s best to go with a skilled personal injury attorney. They will calculate your potential settlement based on every detail of your case, including your bills, future medical costs, loss of quality of life, and more.
At Gerling Law, we know that determining the value of your pain and suffering is stressful. We are there every step of the way for our clients and passionately pursue the compensation they need to recover. To schedule a consultation, call us at 888-437-5464 or contact us online.
Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®