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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

If you suffer an injury that Nevada personal injury law holds someone else liable for, you have a personal injury claim. In most cases, you can seek compensation for economic damages, such as medical expenses, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. 

“Pain and suffering” is a legal term that varies in meaning from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some states, “pain and suffering” is merely a synonym for non-economic damages. In Nevada, by contrast, pain and suffering damages are only a portion of non-economic damages–they compensate you for physical pain and distress. 

Pain and suffering might refer to the pain of a broken collarbone, for example, or to respiratory distress. The ambiguous nature of this term makes it difficult to calculate a value for it.

Context: What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Under Nevada statutory law, non-economic damages consist of the following elements:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Disfigurement.
  • Inconvenience,
  • Physical impairment,
  • Insomnia,
  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life (the inability to enjoy leisure activities), and
  • Other intangible losses, whether or not listed above.

Most personal injury claims include both non-economic damages and economic damages.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and Its Importance

The date you reach MMI is the date your doctor certifies that they expect no further improvement in your medical condition. In a best-case scenario, it means you made a full recovery. In a worst-case scenario, it means you will suffer from a lifelong disability. 

Most of the time, reaching MMI means you will no longer receive medical treatment or endure further pain and suffering. This makes MMI a good time to calculate your compensation claim. If you try to calculate the value of your claim any earlier than the date you reach MMI, you will have to speculate on the amount of your future damage. This can be difficult to do.

Calculation Methods

There are many different ways to calculate a pain and suffering claim, as there is no set standard in the law.

The Per Diem Method

“Per diem” means “per day” in Latin. Under the per diem method, you calculate a daily value for your pain and suffering – $300, for example. You then multiply $300 by the number of days you suffered, beginning with the date of your injury and ending with the date that you reached MMI. 

The Multiplier Method

Using the multiplier method, A X B = C. where A is your economic damages, B is your multiplier (a number between 1.5 and 5), and C is either your pain and suffering damages or your total non-economic damages. Following are some of the factors you might use to determine the value of the multiplier you use:

  • The severity of your injuries. Were they life-threatening?
  • The intensity of your pain.
  • The duration of your pain.
  • The effect of your pain on your everyday life.
  • The strength of your evidence.
  • Any anticipated future pain and suffering.
  • Whether you made a full recovery.

Apply this formula as you see fit. Its main limitation is that the opposing party or a court might reject the value of your multiplier (B) as excessive.

The Insurance Company’s “Pain and Suffering Calculator”

An insurance company might use either the per diem method or the multiplier method to calculate the “pain and suffering” component of its settlement offer to you. Another calculation method that some insurance companies use is an AI software program that uses dozens or even hundreds of inputs to calculate the value of your pain and suffering. 

Like the first two calculation methods, this method is likely to yield a number that is favorable to the insurance company.


Strictly speaking, a negotiation isn’t necessarily a calculation. Nevertheless, you can take the insurance company’s initial offer (based on the multiplier method, for example) and use it as a starting point. 

You can then issue a counteroffer based on what you believe to be the strengths of your claim. From there, you and the insurance company (or the defendant) can eventually work out a negotiated solution.

Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples

Following are examples that illustrate how each of the above-described pain and suffering damages calculation methods might work in actual practice.

The Per Diem Method

An example of a per diem claim calculation might be $300 per day x 120 days = $36,000. Remember, in this case, $36,000 is only the pain and suffering subcomponent of the non-economic damages portion of a personal injury claim that should include economic damages as well.

The Multiplier Method

Suppose your multiplier is 2.5, and your economic damages are $40,000. Your total claim for pain and suffering would be $100,000. Many parties use the multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages rather than pain and suffering alone. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you and the opposing party.

Artificial Intelligence Programs

Suppose the insurance company uses software to issue you a ‘lowball’ settlement offer based on an unrealistically low valuation for your pain and suffering. The insurance adjuster claims that “This estimate is generated by artificial intelligence based on thousands of factors. No human being can question its conclusions.” Prove the insurance adjuster wrong by immediately questioning its conclusions.


Suppose you file a lawsuit, and during pretrial discovery, a deposition reveals that the defendant maliciously caused the accident. This fact gives rise to the possibility of punitive damages. You use this fact as leverage by offering to settle without punitive damages if the defendant will raise their offer for pain and suffering. The defendant, fearing punitive damages in a lawsuit, agrees.  

Special Case: Medical Malpractice Limitations

In medical malpractice cases, Nevada limits all non-economic damages (including but not limited to pain and suffering) to $350,000, regardless of the number of plaintiffs, defendants, or theories upon which liability may be based. 

Unlike the situation in some states, the Nevada Supreme Court has upheld these damages caps as constitutional. 

Special Case: Workers’ Compensation Claims

If your injury was work-related, you might be limited to claiming workers’ compensation damages. If so, you will not be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, you will have to settle for economic damages only. If you can find a third party to blame (such as the owner of a dangerous construction worksite, for example), you can still file a lawsuit and seek non-economic damages.

Special Case: Wrongful Death Claims

If someone dies from their injuries, their personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim. In such a case, the only “pain and suffering” damages that are available under Nevada law are calculated based on the amount of the deceased victim’s pain and suffering between the time of their injury and the time of their death. 

If they died instantly, the pain and suffering component of the wrongful death claim will be worth zero.

Empty Pockets? No Problem. A Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

It’s fine with us if you’re broke, as long as you have a strong claim. You only pay if we obtain compensation for you. If we win, our attorney’s fees will equal a pre-agreed portion of your compensation. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys from De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers today at (702) 222-9999 to get started with a free consultation.

Areas We Serve

At De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers our personal injury lawyers serve the following localities: Angel Park, Anthem, Boulder City, Downtown Las Vegas, East Las Vegas, Gibson Springs, Green Valley, Henderson, Lake Las Vegas, MacDonald Ranch, McCullough Hills, Mission Hills, Paradise, Peccole Ranch, Queensridge, Reno, Seven Hills, Smoke Ranch, Spring Valley, Summerlin, The Lakes, The Strip, Whitney, and more.
We also represent accident victims in Oakland, CA.

About Our Firm

De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers, located in Las Vegas, NV, is a personal injury law firm established over 30 years ago.
We have 100+ years of combined experience securing hundreds of millions for injured people throughout Nevada. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to discuss your case.

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