Pain and suffering is an important part of most personal injury lawsuits. It’s a complicated calculation that lacks an exact formula. The question of how pain and suffering works in Maryland depends on many variables and your circumstances. Personal injury claims are made up of two types of damages; economic losses and non-economic losses. Pain and suffering is the latter.
Economic damages include lost wages and medical bills. You don’t have to be a lawyer or an accountant to work these out. However, number-crunching some economic losses such as future medical bills is more challenging. Non-economic losses are a lot more complicated. If you don’t hire a seasoned Maryland personal injury lawyer you could lose out. Many insurance companies have ‘plug and play’ methods of working out pain and suffering. They are seldom favorable to the injured party even though non-economic damages are usually higher than economic damages. Baltimore personal injury lawyer Randolph Rice breaks down how pain and suffering damages are calculated for accident injuries in Maryland.
What Constitutes Pain and Suffering in Maryland?
It’s important to realize that pain and suffering damages go above and beyond actual pain and suffering. Under Maryland law, juries must look at the individual circumstance of pain and suffering. If an accident victim has had four surgeries, the jury must consider the effect on his or her life.
In answering the question how does pain and suffering ‘work’ in Maryland it’s important to look at the wider impact an injury caused by another person has on the victim’s present and future. The following factors must be considered in calculating pain and suffering.
- The actual physical pain, discomfort, and mental anguish caused by the injury;
- The likely pain, discomfort, and anguish the injury will cause in the future;
- How the injuries affect the overall physical and mental health and wellbeing of an accident victim;
- The scarring, humiliation, disfigurement or any embarrassment caused by the disfigurement;
- The loss of a career and the psychological impact;
- The loss of recreational and sporting activities;
- The loss of companionship to those left behind (a factor in wrongful death cases).
- Factors like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleeplessness, and suicidal thoughts.
Pain and suffering entails many losses specific to the victim’s case. If a back injury is so severe a grandfather can no longer play with his grandkids the way he could before the accident, this loss should be considered under pain and suffering.
There are different ways of calculating pain and suffering damages. Often insurance companies use computer programs to reach a figure. Injury lawyers are skeptical about the fairness of insurance company programs like Colossus used by AllState and others. We are not alone. The Consumer Federation of America issued a critical report about computer programs used by insurance companies. They can mislead people into thinking they are using real science to work out pain and suffering. It advised people who get injured in a car accident that these systems often shortchange them for their injuries. Read more about calculating pain and suffering in a car accident.
Who Can Make a Claim for Pain and Suffering in Maryland?
People hurt in an accident caused by another party can claim for pain and suffering if the injury impacts their life. They include drivers, passengers, cyclists, pedestrians, people injured at a business, family members in a wrongful death claim, and victims of medical malpractice. Pain and suffering is a factor in most injury lawsuits. Usually, people who file for economic damages like lost wages claim for pain and suffering. If you suffering property damage-only, you are unlikely to be able to claim pain and suffering. Claims for mental anguish in Maryland must be linked to a physical injury.
The party who caused your injury must have been 100 percent to blame. Maryland has a strict contributory negligence standard which means you cannot recover for economic or non-economic losses if you were partly to blame for your injury.
Calculating Pain and Suffering for a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland
Maryland personal injury lawyers and insurance companies have historically used two methods to calculate pain and suffering. Both have limitations and there is no guarantee a jury will use these methods.
The Per Day Method
The per diem (Latin for “per day”) approach has been used for decades. This is a relatively straightforward means of calculation that takes a certain reasonable dollar amount – perhaps $150 a day – and adds it to every day the accident victim takes to recover. The difficult part of the per diem method is to decide what a reasonable daily amount should be. Some lawyers and insurance adjusters use actual, daily earnings.
The drawback of this method is its unsuitability for longterm injuries and illnesses. Some insurance companies differentiate between the kind of medical treatment you received. They consider treatment by a physician to be worth more than a chiropractor.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method has been used for years to tackle the tricky area of pain and suffering. To reach a figure you multiply the economic damages of the injured party (known as the plaintiff) by a certain number. This is typically between 1 and 5 depending on the seriousness of the injury. For example, a whiplash injury would likely be a 1 while serious burns, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries could be 5 or even higher in rare cases.
If the accident victim incurs $15,000 in medical bills and lost wages related to a broken leg, he might multiply that by three, and conclude that $45,000 represents a reasonable number for pain and suffering.
Although these two formulas have been used in Maryland personal injury cases for decades. there’s no guarantee a jury would use them if your case made it all the way to trial. It’s important for people who suffer from their injuries to find as much background evidence as possible to make their case.
What Evidence Do You Need to Show Pain and Suffering in Maryland?
Collect as much evidence as you can to show how your life has changed after an accident. Evidence to show pain and suffering includes:
- Written reports from mental health experts who examine you;
- Accounts from family members about how your life changed after the accident;
- Assessments of the pain you have endured from parties like doctors, chiropractors, and physiotherapists;
- Details of how you have had to give up hobbies and sports because of the accident;
- Lists of medical prescriptions before and after an accident;
- Results of neuropsychological testing and other tests for traumatic brain injuries;
- Accounts from longterm friends about how an injury changed you.
Talk to a Baltimore Injury Lawyer About Pain and Suffering
Personal injury attorney Randolph Rice routinely works on pain and suffering calculations with clients. This is a very important category of damages and one insurance companies often downplay. We know how complicated these formulas are and how the insurance companies exploit people who don’t have a grasp on the financials. We believe the driver who caused your serious back injury, the store owner who caused your broken ankle when he left a floor slick or the landlord responsible for a balcony collapse, should be held accountable for his or her actions. People who are hurt in accidents often suffer consequences for months and even years. They can include PTDS and sleepless nights and your relationships can suffer. Please call us to talk about your injury case at 410-694-7291.