Posted by Mike Stephenson on 04/15/2019

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Brain Injury Case

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Brain Injury Case

While any injury can be painful and even life altering, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) has the potential to be particularly devastating. For one thing, our ability to think and reason makes us who we are, and a brain injury robs us of that identity. While a mild concussion may leave you with no lasting effects, a serious TBI can debilitate you for life. Plus TBIs are sneaky. Some are obvious right away, but others lie low for a while and don’t exhibit symptoms until days or weeks after the initial incident.

If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another person or party, you may be entitled to compensation. A good brain injury attorney will help you identify who is responsible and win the damages that will help you rebuild your life.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

Some damages (the compensation owed for loss or injury) already have a dollar amount attached to them and are therefore relatively easy to calculate in a brain injury case. These economic damages may include:

  • Medical expenses, including those projected for the future
  • Past, current, and future lost wages
  • Medications and supplies
  • Costs of therapy and rehabilitation
  • Loss of earning capacity due to permanent brain damage
  • If your loved one has suffered a fatal TBI, funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages, more commonly known as “pain and suffering,” are much more subjective and difficult to quantify. They include physical pain as well as mental and emotional anguish. While this may take many forms, here are a few examples:

  • The trauma of disfigurement
  • Lowered quality of life
  • Diminished ability to function in day-to-day life
  • Depression, PTSD, anxiety, onset of phobias, and other mental problems
  • The effects of permanent disability
  • Loneliness or loss of companionship in the death of a loved one.

Two Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering

While it may seem impossible to fit the concept of pain and suffering into a standard formula, people have certainly tried.

The multiplier method involves determining pain and suffering by calculating economic damages and then multiplying that number by a certain amount — typically around 1.5, but as high as 5 for severe or permanently debilitating injuries.

The per diem method places a dollar amount on each day that you suffer physical, mental, or emotional pain. The per diem number is often determined by the injured party’s typical wages for a day of work. So if the daily number is set at $100 and the person suffers 100 days, they receive $10,000.

Both of these techniques are imperfect, and they are not appropriate for all cases. If medical expenses are relatively low but your TBI severely impedes your ability to function or leads to unrelenting depression, for example, the multiplier method will not win you the compensation you require. If your brain injury leads to long-term or lifelong consequences, you can’t put an end date on your pain and suffering.

A Brain Injury Lawyer Helps You Make Your Case

If you’ve suffered a TBI and someone else is at fault, it’s essential to hire an experienced and compassionate brain injury attorney to help you calculate the full compensation — economic and “pain and suffering” — your case warrants.

A good lawyer will help you pinpoint the party or parties responsible and build up a strong claim based on a number of elements. Pain and suffering can be documented through a combination of medical records, personal journals and diaries, proof of treatment by mental health professionals, and testimony from friends and family members who see how your injury impacts your life every day.

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