Brian White | December 4, 2017 | Houston Personal Injury Attorney
If someone asked you to put a dollar amount on the pain and suffering you experienced after a devastating accident, what would you say? It can be impossible to put a value on these intangible harms. For most people, no amount of money is enough to make up for permanent disabilities, psychological damage, or personal trauma. The Texas courts try to compensate accident victims for these losses the best way they can during personal injury trials.
Basic Multiplier Method
The State of Texas encourages juries to use the basic multiplier method for pain and suffering damage valuation. The multiplier method first calculates the amount of economic, or special, damages the victim suffered. These damages are those with specific amounts, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the price of home or vehicle modifications because of a disability. The jury will take the amount of special damages and multiply it by a number between one and five.
The multiplier the jury selects depends on the extent and severity of the pain and suffering. One is the lowest severity and five the highest. For example, a broken bone that healed well may only equate to a one or 1.5 on the scale. A traumatic brain injury that caused permanent cognitive and motor skill problems, on the other hand, may be a five. Using these examples with special damages in the amount of 100,000: the broken bone would garner $150,000 in pain and suffering damages, while the brain injury would result in $500,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Per Diem Method
Another way a jury may calculate pain and suffering in Texas is with the per diem method. The per diem method (meaning “per day” in Latin) is more appropriate when calculating damages for a temporary injury, and not one that will affect the victim for life or for the long term. In the per diem method, the jury will calculate how many days of pain and suffering the victim experienced and multiply it by a daily rate.
For example, if the accident victim experienced pain and suffering for 30 days, at a value the jury assigned of $100 per day, the victim would receive $3,000 in damages. The jury often comes up with the per diem value by looking at the victim’s daily lost wages from missed time at work. This is typically a reasonable way to calculate per diem damages, as the jury finds having to deal with the pain of an injury comparable with the effort of going to work each day.
Things That May Affect Pain and Suffering Amounts
The jury may decide to use a combination of both types of calculation methods. They may also adjust the results to match the specifics of the unique accident. At the end of the day, the jury has relative freedom in how much they award the accident victim for pain and suffering. A number of things can affect the jury’s decision, including:
- Future pain and suffering
- The need for continued care
- Lifelong trauma related to the accident
- Permanent physical, cognitive, or psychological limitations
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Extensive medical treatments
- Chronic pain or health problems
There is currently no cap on the amount of pain and suffering damages a person can receive in Texas. It is largely up to the injured party to prove his or her pain and suffering. A Houston personal injury attorney can make a big difference in proving this type of harm.