Oklahoma personal injury laws allow victims to recover compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and other damages when another party causes their injury through negligence or wrongdoing. A person injured because of a slip and fall accident, motorcycle crash, medical malpractice, defective product, or other personal injury accident can receive money for their damages. 

Damages in a personal injury case may include:

  • Cost of medical treatment and personal care
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Physical therapy and vocational therapy
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disabilities and impairments

The value of a personal injury claim depends on several factors. Calculating the value of a personal injury claim can be challenging, especially when you need to place a value on a person’s pain and suffering.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

Economic damages in a truck accident claim or another type of personal injury claim is the total of all financial losses related to the accident. Medical bills and lost wages generally make up most of the economic damages. However, travel expenses, medical equipment, and other expenses and financial losses might be included in some cases.

The value of economic damages is the total of the financial losses. A personal injury lawyer gathers medical bills, invoices, receipts, and evidence of loss of income to place a value on the economic damages.

However, calculating a value for non-economic damages is not as easy. There are no bills, invoices, or receipts to place a value on pain and suffering damages. 

How much is physical pain worth? What is the value of emotional suffering or loss of quality of life? How much is a disability or scarring worth?

A person’s pain and suffering are subjective. Everyone suffers differently, even when they sustain the same or similar injuries. 

Unfortunately, there is not a formula to calculate pain and suffering damages. Personal injury lawyers use the facts and circumstances in the case to value pain and suffering damages.

Factors That Impact the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages

Several factors can increase the value of pain and suffering damages. Things that can increase the compensation for pain and suffering damages include:

  • Longer recovery periods
  • Higher values for financial losses
  • Sustaining catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities
  • Being disfigured or scarred
  • The severity of the injuries
  • Higher levels of pain associated with a specific injury or condition 
  • The level of interference the injury has on the victim’s life and relationships
  • Being unable to return to work
  • Developing mental and emotional disorders because of the injuries, such as PTSD and depression

Using the facts and circumstances of the case, a personal injury lawyer can present a reasoned, convincing narrative that supports a higher value for pain and suffering damages. 

Insurance companies and personal injury lawyers understand the average jury awards for pain and suffering damages. There is no guarantee of what a jury might decide in a case, but past awards for non-economic damages can also be a factor that impacts settlement negotiations. 

Methods of Calculating the Value of Non-Economic Damages

Since there is not a standard equation for placing a value on pain and suffering damages, attorneys and insurance companies often use one of two standard methods for valuing pain and suffering damages.

The Multiplier Method

One of the most common ways to calculate pain and suffering is the multiplier method. A multiplier, usually between 1.5 and five, is chosen based on the factors described above. For example, catastrophic injury cases might rate a three or four, while a minor case of whiplash might rate a two. 

The total of the victim’s medical bills is multiplied by the multiplier to calculate pain and suffering damages. The insurance company argues for the lowest multiplier to keep the value of the claim as low as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows what factors can increase the value of the multiplier.

The Per Diem Method

The per diem method is similar to the multiplier method. The parties choose a per diem rate based on the factors described above. The per diem is multiplied by the number of days between the date of the injury and the date the doctor releases the victim from care.

Permanent injuries and other factors can increase the value of the per diem. Deciding on a per diem rate can be difficult. The multiplier method is generally more popular than the per diem method.

Do I Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you do not have any experience valuing non-economic damages or car accident claims, it may be best to talk with an accident attorney. Accident attorneys have extensive experience valuing claims. They understand local juries and judges and the insurance companies involved in claims. 

Having knowledge of the average value for pain and suffering damages under various circumstances gives the attorney the skills to calculate the maximum value of pain and suffering damages that a jury is likely to award. From that figure, an attorney negotiates with the insurance company to arrive at an amount that is fair and just given the facts of the cases and other factors that could influence the outcome of the case if it went to trial.