The Per Diem Method is a strategic approach employed in personal injury cases to calculate general damages, specifically those associated with pain and suffering. The term “Per Diem” is derived from Latin, meaning “per day”, and the method essentially assigns a daily monetary value to the pain, discomfort, and distress experienced by the victim post-injury. This value is then multiplied by the duration of the victim’s healing process to derive the total compensation for general damages.
Pain and suffering damages are a type of non-economic damages awarded in personal injury cases. These damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the injury. Unlike economic damages, which cover quantifiable losses such as medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering damages are subjective and can be more challenging to calculate, thus the use of strategies like the Per Diem method.
Physical pain and suffering refers to the actual physical discomfort and pain experienced by an injury victim. Examples of physical pain and suffering in personal injury claims include:
Emotional or mental pain and suffering covers any distress, anxiety, depression, or trauma associated with the injury. Mental pain and suffering damages are intended to compensate and injury victim for the psychological impact of their injuries, such as:
Since pain & suffering damages do not have a definitive monetary value, injury attorneys and insurance companies have created methods of estimating their value, such as the Per Diem method – based off jury verdicts.
Deciding on a Per Diem amount in a personal injury case requires careful consideration. The selected daily rate should be reasonable and justifiable, reflecting the pain and suffering endured by the victim. For example, $200 or a typical day’s wages for the injury victim are common rates used by attorneys.
Several factors are typically taken into account to arrive at a fair Per Diem rate:
It is crucial to note that while the Per Diem method offers a systematic approach to calculating pain and suffering, it is not a guaranteed formula for success. Courts or insurance companies may not necessarily accept your proposed Per Diem rate. Therefore, the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney can be instrumental in arguing the rationale behind your determined daily rate and ensuring you receive fair compensation for your pain and suffering.
Utilizing a range for Per Diem calculations offers a more flexible approach, allowing for a spectrum of potential compensation that aligns with the diverse perspectives of different jurors. By offering a range – for example, suggesting a daily rate between $200 and $300 rather than a static $250 – the attorney can accommodate the socioeconomic diversity among the jury.
Jurors earning a higher income might lean towards the higher end of the range, while those with a lower income may find the lower end more reasonable. This approach, therefore, provides room for individual interpretation, which could lead to a more unanimously agreed-upon verdict. Moreover, a range can also better encapsulate the varying degrees of pain and suffering the victim may experience on different days, offering a more realistic representation of their experience.
However, presenting a range should not compromise the compelling justification for the proposed amounts – the logic behind each end of the range must be diligently explained to be effective. Therefore, when handled carefully, presenting a Per Diem rate range can be a strategic move in personal injury cases, potentially contributing to achieving a fairer and more satisfactory compensation for pain and suffering.
Several circumstances might justify a high Per Diem rate when estimating compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury case. These factors are directly related to the severity and long-term impact of the injury on the plaintiff’s life:
In conclusion, when determining a Per Diem rate in a personal injury case, it is important to thoroughly consider the victim’s full range of experiences and impacts due to the injury. The more severe and wide-ranging these impacts, the higher the justifiable daily rate. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can effectively argue these points.
While a high Per Diem rate can substantially increase the general damages awarded for pain and suffering in a personal injury case, it can backfire if not appropriately justified. Setting a high daily rate without a substantial rationale may be viewed as an attempt to inflate the claim unfairly, leading to skepticism from insurance adjusters, judges, or jury members. If perceived as unreasonable or greedy, this can negatively impact the credibility of the entire claim.
There’s a risk of the court or insurance company rejecting the proposed Per Diem rate outright, opting for a lower daily rate or disregarding the Per Diem calculation altogether. Furthermore, an exorbitant Per Diem claim might provoke a more rigorous scrutiny of all aspects of the case, leading to a more contested negotiation process. Therefore, determining a Per Diem rate requires a careful balance – it should adequately reflect the victim’s pain and suffering, without appearing arbitrary or excessive.
In order to bring the jurors closer to the experiences of a personal injury victim, it can be helpful to pose two moral questions that underscore the involuntary nature of the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as the financial value placed on such distress.
By contemplating these moral questions, jurors can gain a deeper understanding of the victim’s suffering and the justification for a substantial Per Diem rate in the compensation for general damages. It’s not an easy task to quantify pain and suffering, but these questions offer a meaningful way to rationalize the economic valuation of such non-tangible damages.
The Per Diem method, by its design, inherently factors in the personal perspective of each juror. Each juror’s personal income can significantly influence the Per Diem rate they deem reasonable for a day without pain and suffering. For a juror with a high income, a $200 daily rate may seem minimal, and they may be inclined to award a higher Per Diem rate. Conversely, for a juror earning a lower income, a $200 daily rate might represent a significant amount, leading them to be more conservative in their Per Diem judgement.
This discrepancy underscores the need for carefully selecting a reasonable and justifiable Per Diem rate – one that accounts for the severity of the victim’s pain and suffering, but also considers the income diversity among jurors. It’s a delicate balance to strike, and once again emphasizes the importance of skilled legal representation in a personal injury case. An experienced attorney can thoughtfully present the case for a specific Per Diem rate in a way that resonates with jurors from varying economic backgrounds, increasing the likelihood of a fair and satisfactory verdict.
Let’s look at an example of a Per Diem Calculation for a personal injury case. Assume the victim, after a car accident, has endured 200 days of pain and suffering. After considering the severity and breadth of the victim’s experiences, including physical pain, impact on mental health, loss of enjoyment in life, and impact on career, the attorney proposes a daily rate of $250 for pain and suffering. The Per Diem calculation for general damages would then be:
$250 (Daily Rate) x 200 (Days of Suffering) = $50,000
This means that the victim would seek $50,000 in general damages for pain and suffering. Remember, this amount is separate from any special damages sought for actual financial loss due to medical bills or lost wages. The Per Diem method offers a rational way to quantify non-tangible losses and argue for a fair compensation for the victim’s ordeal.
Despite its widespread use, some common criticisms of the Per Diem Method are:
To learn more about quantifying pain and suffering in personal injury claims, we invite you to connect with our specialized attorneys. Our team is adept at navigating the complexities of Per Diem calculations, ensuring all factors are duly considered, and developing compelling arguments for fair compensations.
We believe in personalized legal guidance, and we are committed to helping each client understand their rights and legal options in the light of their unique situation. Feel free to contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION where we can provide a comprehensive view of the Per Diem method and how it can be tailored to your specific case. We are dedicated to ensuring you receive the justice and compensation you deserve, and have a long history of obtaining excellent results for our clients.
Thompson Law receives an attorney fee and you pay no legal fees as our client unless we pay you. Thompson Law has 350 years of combined experience in legal representation and has won over $1.8 billion dollars in cash settlements for our clients. We master the art of managing client cases with empathy, compassion, respect and, of course, prodigious skill. Contact us today for a free, risk-free consultation to discuss your accident and your options.
State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.