Calculating Pain and Suffering for Burn Injuries

The pain from a burn injury can be horrific. Anyone who has sustained even a minor burn knows well how painful it can be. Severe burns can be disabling in terms of physical and chronic pain. Permanent nerve damage and loss of mobility can add to a burn survivor’s suffering. In Arizona, the civil justice system gives accident victims the right to seek damages for their pain and suffering.

Understanding Pain and Suffering Damages

Compensatory damages in a personal injury claim serve to make a victim whole again. They reimburse an injured person for the damages he or she suffered because of someone else’s negligence. The two types of compensatory damages are special and general. Special damages are those specific to one individual, such as his or her exact medical costs or past and future lost wages. General damages are those any typical person would experience in the same circumstances, such as the pain and suffering a patient with burn injuries feels.

Pain and suffering damages pay an injured victim an additional amount on top of a compensatory award to make up for his or her noneconomic injuries. Physical pain, lost quality of life, disabilities, emotional injuries, distress, mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and loss of services are all examples of potential pain and suffering damages. Rather than medical bills and pay stubs determining the amount of a pain and suffering award, a jury will determine how much to grant a plaintiff based on the facts of the case.

How Is Pain and Suffering Damage Calculated?

Almost every personal injury case in Arizona ends with pain and suffering damages for the plaintiff. The amount of this award, however, will depend on the case and client. It is entirely up to the party determining the value of pain and suffering how much to grant a plaintiff. While two common standards exist in determining a pain and suffering award, insurance companies and jurors can use their own rules – or no rule at all – to come up with an amount.

The first frequently used calculation for pain and suffering damages is the Multiplier Method. This method takes the plaintiff’s total amount of specific damages and multiplies it by a number that is reasonable based on the extent of the victim’s pain and suffering. For a third-degree burn injury, for example, a jury might use higher multipliers such as four and five. More minor burns, on the other hand, might have multipliers of one or two. The final number is how much the plaintiff will receive in pain and suffering damages.

The second common calculation used is the per diem method. This method is more appropriate for burn injuries with set recovery dates. If a physician can estimate a patient’s point of maximum medical improvement, a jury might use the per diem method for pain and suffering. This calculation multiplies the number of days the plaintiff will experience pain and suffering from the injury by an amount that is reasonable per day (usually corresponding to the plaintiff’s daily wage). This amount will be what the plaintiff receives in general damages.

What Are the Components of Pain and Suffering From a Burn?

As Phoenix burn injury lawyers, a key aspect of our representation is communicating to a jury the full degree of pain and suffering endured. There are four primary components associated with burn injury cases:

  • The pain and suffering resulting from the injury itself. In addition to the physical pain and suffering at the time of the injury, there is often concurrent psychological pain. Psychological pain may include the fear of imminent death.
  • The pain and suffering from immediate and follow-up treatment. Treatment for burn injuries in itself is often extremely painful, particularly surgeries involving skin grafts. Follow-up appointments, such as the removal of old bandages and rebandaging, can also be severely painful and traumatic.
  • Future treatment. Pain and suffering does not end because a trial takes place. Severe burns can involve years of surgeries and physical therapy. In making a case for full compensation, a burn injury victim is entitled to damages not only for past pain and suffering, but also for future pain and suffering likely to be endured for treatment that will more likely than not be required.
  • Psychological pain and suffering. Burn injury victims are often left with permanent physical and emotional scars that must be endured on a daily basis. In some cases, psychological and other counseling is required on a long-term basis.

Our lawyers know how to demonstrate intangible and invisible losses such as pain and suffering during a burn injury claim to a jury in a way that will make them sympathetic to your plight. We may be able to use photographs, video footage, witness statements from friends and family members, expert witness testimony, and testimony from you to emphasize how much pain and suffering your burn injury has caused. We always fight for maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.

We Help Juries Understand the Full Measure of Pain and Suffering Endured

In order to properly compensate a burn injury victim for pain and suffering, jurors must understand the full extent of the pain and suffering experienced in the past, as well as that likely to be suffered in the future. To provide this critical information, in addition to the testimony of our client, our injury lawyers often additionally introduce the testimony of medical experts to describe required physical treatment, as well as psychologists who can provide an opinion on mental and emotional pain and suffering. In many cases, video is also helpful to show what a burn injury victim must go through on a daily basis, as well as the treatment that must be endured.

There is no set formula which juries must use to determine a monetary amount for pain and suffering in cases involving burn injuries, other than their calculation should be based upon the evidence introduced at trial. In our experience, jurors will consider a wide range of factors, such as:

  • The severity of the burns
  • The amount of the person’s body covered by the burns
  • What areas of the body were burned
  • The surgeries and other medical treatment required or that will be necessary
  • The types of pain and suffering involved in rehabilitation
  • The amount of psychological pain endured in the past and likely to be endured in the future
  • Other factors that a jury deems relevant

We can review the facts of your burn injury case to give an honest and accurate evaluation of how much it may be worth. Our attorneys can prepare you for what to expect in pain and suffering damages. We are always straightforward with our clients about the values of their claims. Then, we can help you fight for maximum recovery for a serious burn injury. To learn how we will seek full compensation for you, please call our firm to talk with one of our Phoenix lawyers.