How Can You Put A Price On Pain And Suffering In Medical Malpractice?

When you read the paper and see that someone got millions of dollars for a slight burn from a coffee spill, while someone else is left in a wheelchair and was barely awarded enough in court to cover their medical costs, it might make you wonder how anyone can put a price on personal injury. You might ask specifically how much you should be compensated for your pain and suffering. As anyone knows, pain and suffering are all relative and specific to the person. Putting a dollar amount on it may not be an easy thing to do, but it is necessary.

There are specific guidelines about pain and suffering, especially when it comes to medical malpractice. In fact, many legislators around the nation are trying to limit or cap what people are entitled to in terms of malpractice compensation.

The first step to determining what someone is entitled to for their pain and suffering in a medical malpractice suit is first to classify the type of pain and suffering that they are suing for. There are two general kinds of pain and suffering classifications that can be pursued. There are physical injuries that a person can sue for, like their bodily injuries. Other physical injuries include things like disfigurement or disability that can result from medical malpractice.

The second classification refers to the non-physical pain of medical malpractice — things like anger, fear, anxiety, shock, or even embarrassment. There are times when non-physical suffering can lead to physical pain and suffering in the form of loss of appetite, lack of energy, or even medical conditions like post-traumatic stress syndrome.

How to put an amount to your suffering

Because of the complexity of putting any real calculation on medical malpractice pain and suffering, it is often left for the judge and jury to decide. In most states, juries and the judges presiding over the case will use their common sense and sense of fairness to come up with a reasonable amount of money that a person should be entitled to and a dollar amount equal to what the person has endured.

The problem is that juries are left with very little information about how to calculate a price. And when left to their own discretion, they will sometimes overestimate how much someone is entitled to, while others completely underestimate the fair amount.

The Multiplier Rule

As a general rule, juries are instructed to use something called a “multiplier.” This means that an insurance company will calculate the amount of pain and suffering someone goes through according to the amount of economic damages they have. Economic damages are things like lost earnings and medical bills. Therefore, the more time someone has lost from work or the more medical procedures they have had to endure, the more pain and suffering they have likely been through.

It is easy to see how the “multiplier” method can be a useful tool, but there are times that it has very little relation to the amount of suffering the person has undergone. There are additional factors that jurors can use to assign a dollar amount to pain and suffering, like:

  • Whether the plaintiff seems truly hurt
  • If they are credible in their explanation of their suffering
  • Whether their account of their incident and pain and suffering is consistent
  • If they have a criminal record
  • Whether they are likable

Because people are human beings and are fallible, things like likability, consistency and credibility will always play a factor in the amount that someone is awarded. The higher you are on the three scales, the more you will probably receive.

Some states already have caps in place to limit a jury from awarding ridiculous and outrageous amounts. Depending on where the trial is held, there might be a maximum payout allowed. If you are involved in a medical malpractice suit, it is imperative that you hire an injury attorney to represent you. Being able to cover your medical costs and to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, along with covering any future consequences, is imperative for your long-term well-being.

Things don’t always go as expected in medical procedures and accidents do happen. If you are injured due to the negligence of a physician, it is important that you receive the necessary compensation for your financial and medical well-being.