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Missouri Sunset

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Missouri?

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Posted on January 13, 2024

When a Missouri resident suffers serious injuries due to another party’s carelessness, reckless behavior, or intentional wrongdoing, the civil courts allow them to seek compensation for their damages. In an injury claim, the word “damages” refers to both the economic and non-economic consequences of the injury. While it’s easy to see how a personal injury attorney in St. Louis and an insurance company can calculate an injury victim’s economic damages by totaling the tangible costs of medical care and lost income, it’s unclear to most Missouri injury victims how they arrive at a figure for intangible damages like pain and suffering. How is pain and suffering compensation calculated in Missouri?

pain and suffering in Missouri

What Are the Elements of “Pain and Suffering” in Personal Injury Claims?

For injury victims with clear evidence that they sustained serious, painful, life-altering injuries, the amount of compensation they receive for their pain and suffering often far exceeds the amount of their economic damages. Clear evidence includes proof of the at-fault party’s liability as well as the victim’s medical report from the treatment they received immediately after suffering the injury. Often, medical expert witnesses testify about the impacts of the victim’s type of injury on their life and the level of pain they feel. The elements of pain and suffering in Missouri may include the following:

  • Physical pain and physical distress, such as distress from difficulty breathing or moving
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • PTSD/anxiety/depression
  • Disfigurement

These intangible losses may be more difficult to assign a monetary value compared to the economic costs of an injury, but for injury victims, these are the most devastating consequences of the injury. Financial compensation cannot erase pain and suffering but it adds to the total amount of compensation awarded to the victim so they have access to the best care with fewer worries about financial hardship.

What Method Is Used for Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Missouri?

Missouri law has no law or official formula for calculating non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. Typically, insurers and attorneys use one of two common methods to arrive at a monetary number for a victim’s pain and suffering:

  • The multiplier method uses a pain scale from one to five and then multiplies the level of pain by the total costs of the economic damages from the injury
  • The per-diem method sets a specific monetary value for suffering per day and multiplies it by the number of days the victim has suffered and can reasonably expect to continue suffering until they reach their maximum medical improvement

Once the injury victim’s attorney arrives at a monetary amount for pain and suffering damages, they present the amount to the insurance company of the person or business who caused the injury. The insurance adjuster assigned to the case reviews the evidence and then negotiates with the injury victim and their lawyer until they arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement amount. However, if the insurance company seriously undervalues the claim of pain and suffering or wrongfully denies the claim completely, the case proceeds to court in a lawsuit.

Jury Awards for Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Claims in Missouri

If a case goes to court, the injury victim and their attorney present evidence and testimony to prove the at-fault party’s liability and the serious impacts of the injury on the victim’s life, including their pain and suffering. Statements by medical experts on the type and duration of pain involved in the victim’s injury and treatment as well as medical records, photos, and testimony from family members and the victim themselves are all evidence presented to the jury. Although court litigation for personal injury claims in Missouri takes longer than a settlement, jury awards for damages—including for pain and suffering—are often larger than a settlement.

To speak to someone about your claim, contact a St. Louis injury attorney today.