How is Pain and Suffering Calculated? The Multiplier Method

In determining pain and suffering awards, there are many factors that juries may consider.  Ultimately pain and suffering may be calculated using a method.

One method used by trial counsel for calculating pain and suffering is the “multiplier” method.  Under this method, pain and suffering are calculated based on a multiple of the “special” damages of medical bills and lost wages. The multiple may be two, three, or even ten times these damages – there is no set multiple.

The theory behind the “multiplier” method is that the higher the medial bills and lost wages are, the more significant the injuries probably were, and the more pain and suffering was likely involved.

The “multiplier” method may be used by a plaintiff’s lawyer at trial, such as in the following scenario:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have just talked about the medical bill. Now, how do we evaluate the general damages, the pain and suffering, the real human losses in this case? Why do I call general damages “real” damages?

If your best friend had just broken his or her leg, would you ask, “How much are your medical bills? What will your loss of earnings be?” Of course not.

You would say “Are you in any pain? How long will you be in this cast? Will you be able to run with me again? Will you have any long-lasting pain or limitation?”

We would ask these questions because that is what we really care about as human beings. These are the real losses. In the case of Sarah, who will continue to face this severe pain you have heard about for the rest of her life, we can assure you that it is not the medical bills that she most cares about.

How do we value the pain and suffering that Sarah must endure for the rest of her life? We believe that the medical bills are one-tenth of what she has been through, and what she will continue to suffer. Isn’t this fair?  Isn’t the continued pain and suffering that she will face for the rest of her life worth at least 10 times as much as her medical bills?

Compensation for medical bills is just to make sure the medical bills can be paid. That is for the doctors. The general damages are to compensate her. If the medical bills are this much (counsel holds his or her hands six inches apart), then I suggest that the human loss, the suffering you heard about to Sarah, is worth this much (counsel holds his or her arms all the way apart).

Providing a Reference Point for Calculating Damages for Pain and Suffering

The multiplier method then serves as a useful basis for calculating damages for pain and suffering.  A jury may not intrinsically know how much pain and suffering is involved in a broken leg, for example, but it can be provided with the documentation for the amount of medical damages and lost wages suffered up to the date of the trial.  Based on these amounts, the jury can then feel like they have some basis or reference point for calculating damages.

How We Provide Information for Helping Maximize Pain and Suffering

While juries do not have to use the multiplier method in calculating damages, often this method is used in some form.  As a result, there are two variables used to determine damages: the multiplier number and “special damages” which include medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

The Multiplier Number. We help clients obtain the maximum out of possible for pain and suffering by arguing the largest multiple that we believe to be fair based upon the damages sustained.  It’s important to recognize that in calculating damages for pain and suffering, jurors usually want to be fair to all parties involved.  Thus in determining an appropriate multiple, it is important not to argue for a multiple that is so unreasonably high that jurors will simply disregard our arguments and come up with their own determination.

Medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. It is important to carefully identify all of these items, both past and those likely to be incurred in the future.  Future medical costs can sometimes include those for medical complications that are likely to arise in later years.  We thus seek to fully prove all of these costs so that whatever multiplier may be used by the jury will be computed against the full value of these costs.

Please Call Our Firm To Find Out How We Will Seek to Maximize an Award of Pain and Suffering Damages to Which You May Be Entitled

We will meet with you for free so that we can learn about your accident and the injuries you sustained.  Once we learn about these matters, we can discuss with you the legal options that you may have to seek recovery, and how we will work tirelessly in seeking to recover for you the full measure of damages to which you may be entitled

We will work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we are only paid for our fees if we win for you.


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St. Louis, MO 63017

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