How Does Louisiana Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?

Suppose you have been harmed in a personal injury accident due to another person’s careless or negligent actions. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, auto repair bills, and lost income. But what about the emotional distress you felt during and after the crash?

In any personal injury case, Louisiana law considers a victim’s mental distress and suffering as well as their financial losses, which is regarded as pain and suffering. Any chronic pain or mental anguish that results from the injury could also have a lasting impact on your quality of life — and finances.

What these losses entail and how they are calculated is where things can get more confusing. 

What Does Pain and Suffering Mean in Louisiana?

In a car accident claim example, your losses are called “damages.” These could be economic damages, which are the financial losses you’ve suffered, including lost wages, reduced earning potential, medical bills, property damage, etc. (These could also be called monetary damages, special damages, or pecuniary damages.) 

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to the more abstract concepts such as the mental distress or physical pain you experience as a result of the accident. These are commonly called “pain and suffering.” More specific examples of each type are below: 

  • Physical pain and suffering: Your actual pain resulting from the physical injuries and discomfort you sustained during and since the injury. Some examples of physical problems qualifying as “pain and suffering” might be chronic back or neck pain, traumatic brain injury, broken or fractured bones, headaches, nerve damage, internal organ damage, dislocated joints, scarring, disfigurement, pulled or sprained muscles or paralysis. 
  • Mental pain and suffering: This pain is usually the by-product of the accident and more often emotional in nature. It can include depression, psychological trauma, grief, persistent fear, anxiety, PTSD, anger issues, diminished quality of life, loss of enjoyment, lack of purpose or energy, humiliation, shock, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, or cognitive changes due to a head injury.

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in Louisiana?

Because pain and suffering cannot be clearly represented by a dollar amount like economic damages can, calculating it can be challenging. As a starting point, questions like this may be considered: 

  • How much will your daily life be changed?
  • Were you hospitalized? 
  • Is your mobility limited?
  • Are you permanently disabled or disfigured?
  • Will your injury impact your responsibilities at home or work?

From there, the following methods can be used for guidance in calculating pain and suffering compensation, but keep in mind this is only a guide, and an experienced personal injury attorney is needed to give a more specific estimate. 

  1. Multiplier method: The multiplier method adds up all of the monetary losses from the accident and then multiplies them by a number between one and five (the more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier). For example, if you’ve suffered $35,000 in economic damages and we use a multiplier of two, you could be entitled to $70,000 for pain and suffering. 
  1. Daily rate method: This is also known as the “per diem” method, and can sometimes be used to calculate pain and suffering in Louisiana. This approach provides the victim with a specific dollar amount every day they have to cope with their injuries. It may be equal to your actual daily earnings. Once the number is identified, the value is multiplied by the number of days your life has been affected.

For example, if you make $15 an hour in a full-time job (40 hours per week), your daily rate would be $120 per day. If it takes 90 days to settle your claim and complete physical therapy, you’d be entitled to $10,800 for your pain and suffering. Note: your daily rate can decrease as more time goes by which is why it’s important to file a claim immediately. 

  1. Jurisprudential method: With the jurisprudential method, a lawyer, judge or jury looks for similar cases that happened in the past to compare yours to and use as a foundation to determine your current accident case value. 

For example, if someone involved in a car accident in Louisiana in 2017 had injuries similar to yours and received $60,000 in pain and suffering damages, your lawyer could argue that that’s what you deserve, too. 

Does Louisiana Place a Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages?

Some states put a cap on the amount of money you can collect for pain and suffering. In Louisiana, the maximum damages depends on the details of the accident. If you have been harmed in a personal injury accident involving a motor vehicle, Louisiana does not put a cap on pain and suffering damages. 

However, if the claim involves medical malpractices or is against a government agency, the cap for pain and suffering damages is $500,000. 

You Deserve Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering

There are many complexities involved in figuring out how much pain and suffering compensation you’re entitled to. If you or a loved one has been involved in a personal injury accident, and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.