What is the maximum an insurance adjuster can give you for pain and suffering?

If you have been injured from the negligent actions of another person, depending on the injury, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and receive compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, "What is the maximum an insurance adjuster can give you for pain and suffering?"

Pain and suffering loss after personal injury

Pain and suffering includes the mental, physical and emotional pain suffered by the injured party. It can include any pain and suffering, even that which cannot be objectively calculated such as fear, grief, or loss of enjoyment of life. The amount can vary substantially by injury, but if you have been injured and suffered loss you generally have some amount of pain and suffering. The challenge is determining the amount.

Calculating pain and suffering

Although pain and suffering can vary and may be different for each claimant, insurance adjusters and personal injury lawyers do have several methods they use to calculate what they consider a reasonable settlement amount for pain and suffering.

The first method is called the multiplier method. If this method is used the insurance adjuster will user a multiplier between one and five and multiply that times other compensatory damages. For instance, if your medical bills were $500.00 and your lost wages were $400.00 the insurance adjuster would determine the pain and suffering multiplier and multiple that amount times the total amount of loss ($900.00 X 3= $2700.00). They would then add the $2,700 for pain and suffering to your total out-of-pocket costs of $900.00 and offer to settle for approximately $3,600.

When using the multiplier method the plaintiff will argue for a higher multiplier and the insurance company will argue for a lower number. Expect to negotiate.

The second method used by insurance companies is the per day or per diem approach. Under this method the insurance company will determine the amount of money the plaintiff's injury is worth per day and multiply that number times the number of days the plaintiff is injured.

Do states cap pain and suffering offers?

Certain states have implemented caps for non-economic damages including pain and suffering. Caps for medical malpractice claims are most common but a little less than a quarter of the states also have non-economic damage caps for any personal injury claim. Exceptions exist for certain losses such as death or serious injury.

In Texas, for instance, laws have been passed which limit non-economic damages to $250,000 per healthcare institution or for each claimant. If there are multiple claimants they are also limited to recovering $500,000 total in non-economic damages.

Wrongful death caps have also been instituted against healthcare providers. If a healthcare provider causes the negligent death of a claimant the claimant's family may recover a total of $500,000 in total damages in 1977 dollars (or approximately $1.8 million, accounting for inflation).

So to answer the user's question, the maximum offered for pain and suffering will depend on the plaintiff's injuries and the maximum compensation allowed in their state.

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