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How Is Pain & Suffering Calculated?


When another person or party’s negligent conduct leaves you dealing with significant injuries and related damages, you could be entitled to financial compensation. There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. While economic damages include anything with a set dollar value, such as medical expenses or lost wages, non-economic damages are more intangible.

The most common and well-known type of non-economic damage is “pain and suffering.” Generally speaking, pain and suffering is a catchall term used to describe the physical, emotional, and psychological hardships a person endures as a result of the injuries or losses he or she sustained.

Examples of such damages include:

  • Physical pain associated with one’s injuries
  • Emotional distress/trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in mood or behavior

Though they are less concrete than financial losses, the non-economic consequences of a serious accident or injury can be debilitating. Often, victims require various medications and treatments, including counseling services and therapy, to deal with the pain and suffering caused by the accident.

The good news is that you are often able to recover financial compensation for pain and suffering. But how exactly is this compensation calculated?

In South Carolina, there are two basic methods of calculating pain and suffering damages: the multiplier method and the per diem method.

The Multiplier Method

The first method of calculating pain and suffering damages in South Carolina is often referred to as the multiplier method. With this method, the plaintiff’s (the person bringing the claim) total economic damages are added together and then multiplied by a number from one to five. This number is known as the “multiplier.”

The court decides on the multiplier based on a range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries
  • How the injuries impact the plaintiff’s everyday life
  • How long it will take for the plaintiff to make a complete recovery
  • The percentage of fault attributed to the defendant

Because every case is unique, it is impossible to state the exact value of pain and suffering damages you can expect in your case without first going over the specific details of your situation. However, you may be eligible for anywhere from one to five times the amount of your economic damages.

The Per Diem Method

The other method of calculating pain and suffering damages in South Carolina is the per diem method. With this method, the plaintiff is compensated a specific dollar amount for every day he or she must live with the physical pain and emotional trauma caused by the accident. This specific dollar amount varies but is often reflective of the individual’s typical daily earnings.

The per diem method of calculating pain and suffering is more commonly used for short-term injuries/damages, whereas the multiplier method is more often used when the plaintiff has sustained significant and/or long-lasting injuries/damages.

Proving Your Pain & Suffering

Just as you must prove your economic damages, typically by providing documentation of your medical bills and lost wages, along with other evidence, you must also prove your pain and suffering. This can be relatively challenging, as pain and suffering is not typically concrete.

At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, we help our clients establish the extent of their pain and suffering by gathering and submitting relevant evidence, including:

  • Medical reports detailing the nature, severity, and extent of their injuries
  • Copies of prescriptions for various medications used to treat PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Receipts for over-the-counter medications
  • Photographic evidence of their injuries (if available)
  • Medical bills for counseling services, therapy, follow-up appointments, and related treatments

We also recommend that you keep a journal detailing your recovery and any hardships you are experiencing as a result of your injuries. These can be financial or non-economic challenges, from struggling to keep up with your medical bills to experiencing depression due to being out of work to a newfound fear of driving. Be honest and detailed when documenting your damages and don’t leave anything out. The more evidence we have, the better able we are to prove the full extent of your pain and suffering.

Why You Need an Attorney

After a serious accident or injury, you are going to face a number of new, unexpected challenges. When you’re already working to get the proper medical care, keep up with day-to-day expenses, and manage the non-economic consequences of the accident, the last thing you need to deal with is a difficult insurance company. By putting an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, you are taking an important step in protecting your rights.

At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, we are ready to step in and immediately begin gathering evidence in support of your claim. Our team will work with the insurance company so that you don’t have to. We have more than 80 years of combined experience navigating the most complex of claims; we know what you are up against, and we know how to fight for the maximum compensation you are owed. We never settle for less than what we think our clients deserve.

To learn how our Charleston personal injury lawyers can help you with your claim, contact us today and request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.