How Do Pennsylvania Juries Decide the Amount for Pain and Suffering?

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    “Pain and suffering” compensates victims for the mental and physical strains of living with their injuries. But how do you calculate something like the mental anguish one feels waking up each day with pain from long-healed injuries?

    When deciding the compensation to award in a lawsuit, monetary losses are relatively easy to calculate. However, most people do not understand how juries decide how much pain and suffering a victim should get. Some juries might use your economic losses and multiply it by a number that corresponds to your injury’s severity, while others will assign a monetary value for each day of your pain. With either method, you will earn more pain and suffering damages the more we convince the jury that your injuries have seriously impacted your life.

    Contact The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 709-6940 for a free assessment of your case with our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers.

    How Will a Jury Calculate My Pain and Suffering Damages in Pennsylvania?

    Many injury victims have damages beyond their financial losses. They also likely live with physical pain and emotional harm, known as “pain and suffering.” Unlike economic damages, pain and suffering cannot be simply by adding up invoices. Essentially, pain and suffering are emotional stress damages that compensate you for the impact your injuries have on your life.

    Juries in Pennsylvania personal injury trials decide how much to award a plaintiff for the emotional distress they feel or for the time they lose with friends and family. It is hard to put a price tag on losses as personal as humiliation and the effects of living with the physical pain of your injury.

    Still, juries have a few methods they can use to decide the amount of pain and suffering you should be awarded. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys can assess your non-economic damages with these methods and argue for that amount to the jury.

    The Per Diem Method

    Arguably, the most direct approach is the per diem method, or “pay-per-day.” Under this method, the jury would assign a dollar value per day for your pain and suffering.

    However, how much each day is worth is usually up to the jury, but it is typically based on a reasonable rate of your daily wages. For instance, if we show the jury you make $100 a day and that your pain and suffering are likely to last for a year, you should get $36,500 for your losses. Our team can argue that your pain and suffering is likely to last for an extended period. Of course, the more severe your personal injuries, the more you stand to recover under the per diem method.

    The Multiplier Method

    Another approach juries commonly use in Pennsylvania to assess the amount of pain and suffering is the multiplier method. This method will use the final value of your medical bills, lost income, and other economic expenses as the basis to determine your pain and suffering. The jury will take your economic losses and assign a “multiplier” to it, usually a number between 1 and 5. Once the jury decides what multiplier is sufficient, they will multiply your financial damages by that factor.

    For instance, suppose the jury in your case assigned a multiplier of 2. If your proven economic damages added up to $20,000, you would be awarded $40,000 for your pain and suffering. Thus, the total value of your case would be $60,000.

    Like the per diem method, the value the jury selects in your case will depend on the extent of your injuries. More severe injuries take more time to heal and can limit one’s life more substantially, justifying a higher multiplier. For instance, if the defendant caused you permanent spinal injuries, the jury would likely use 5 to see you are fully compensated for that severe pain and suffering.

    Can a Jury Cap the Amount of Pain and Suffering Damages I Receive in Pennsylvania?

    Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that still caps the amount of pain and suffering damages a plaintiff can be awarded. This rule has long been seen as unfair, but fortunately, it only applies when suing a government body in Pennsylvania. If you are filing a lawsuit against a normal person, your damages will not be capped..

    If you are suing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8528(b) instructs juries to cap pain and suffering damages at $250,000 for cases with a single plaintiff and $1,000,000 for those with multiple victims. For lawsuits against a local Pennsylvania government agency, the total amount of economic and non-economic damages you can recover is $500,000, according to 42 Pa.C.S. § 8553(b).

    For instance, if you were the victim of medical malpractice, your costs might have skyrocketed because of the additional care or surgeries you needed to correct the initial mistake. You might also get less pain and suffering damages if you were one victim in a deadly multi-car pileup. We will help prove to the jury why you deserve the maximum amount the state allows.

    Can Anything I Do Harm My Chances of Recovering Pain and Suffering in Pennsylvania?

    In cases where the plaintiff contributed to causing the accident, a jury might use comparative negligence rules to lower your compensation. With this approach, the jury will assess the percentage of fault each person contributed to the accident. In Pennsylvania, juries use the “comparative fault” rule. According to 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102(a), a jury will not award you any damages, including pain and suffering, if your percentage of fault exceeds the defendant’s. If your level of fault is less than the defendant’s, your award will be reduced by your share.

    Basically, if the jury finds you 50% or more at fault for your pain and suffering, they will bar you from recovery under the fault at play method. This can hurt you because many defendants try to shift the blame to their victims. Even if you are not found more at fault, it can cost you some of the compensation you need for your recovery. Our team will help you show the jury that the defendant is completely at fault for your pain and suffering.

    Because pain and suffering are based on how your injuries impact your life, the defense will also be looking out for evidence that contradicts your claims. Thus, you should not post any messages or videos on social media that can be used against you. Suppose the defense attorney finds videos on your social media playing a softball game a week after your accident. In that case, it can seriously damage your claims that your injuries are preventing you from living a full life.

    Be sure also to follow your medical provider’s advice and go to all appointments. This way, the defendant will have no room to argue that you are exaggerating your pain and suffering claims.

    Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help You Assess Your Pain and Suffering Today

    For a free case review, call our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.

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