Following an accident, you may live with substantial physical injuries and significant emotional duress. If you plan to file a personal injury claim, you can claim damages for both your economic damages — which include medical expenses, lost wages and property damage — and non-economic damages, which include things like pain and suffering.
Insurers can easily calculate economic damages, as they typically come with receipts and other paper trails. However, calculating non-economic damages is not so cut and dry, as the level of pain and suffering and how it affects plaintiffs’ lives varies greatly. To come up with an as accurate determination of pain and suffering damages as possible, insurers developed the “multiplier method.” FindLaw explains what the multiplier method is and how it works.
The pain and suffering multiplier
The pain and suffering multiplier is an equation that insurers use to calculate the value of personal injury claimants’ pain and suffering. The equation involves adding up the total of a person’s actual damages — otherwise known as special damages — and multiplying that number by a value of between 1.5 and 5, which is the “multiplier.” The multiplier indicates the level of seriousness of a person’s pain and suffering and to what degree it and other damages affect his or her life.
How insurers come up with a multiplier
To come up with an appropriate multiplier for your pain and suffering, insurers will consider first and foremost the severity of your injury. If your injury is serious and drastically interferes with your life, the multiplier should be close to five, or even greater than five. In extreme cases, insurers assign a multiplier of six or seven. In addition to the severity of your injury, insurers will consider the following:
- The overtness of the other party’s fault
- The length of your period of recovery
- Whether clear evidence of your pain and suffering exists (such as therapy records)
Though the multiplier method is one of the most popular ways insurers calculate pain and suffering damages, it is important to bear in mind that it merely provides an estimate. There is no guarantee that you will recover the amount you claim. For this reason, it is important to support your claim with facts and documentation.