How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Arizona?

What is pain and suffering, and how do you make sure you’re compensated fairly if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions? 

Under the general Arizona personal injury law, you can seek compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. Any chronic pain or mental anguish that results from the injury could also have a lasting impact on your quality of life — and finances. You may wonder if you’re also able to receive compensation for the pain and suffering you endure as a result of the injury. 

In short, the answer is yes. 

The main question, then, is what qualifies as pain and suffering and how is it calculated in Arizona? First, you have to understand the types of damages a court can award.

The Types of Damages That Can Be Awarded in Arizona

Arizona law recognizes three types of damages in a personal injury case. They are:

  • Economic damages: These compensate a victim for financial losses they’ve suffered due to their injury, including lost wages, reduced earning potential, medical bills, property damage, etc. They are sometimes called “special damages.”
  • Punitive damages: The second type of damages are punitive damages, which is less common. This is awarded when the injury was caused by a defendant acting with “an evil hand and mind” or malice. You have to be able to show the defendant did something beyond an ordinary act of negligence when causing the injury.
  • Non-economic damages: The third type of damages are non-economic or “general damages.” These are intended to compensate someone for the non-monetary losses associated with their injury. This is where pain and suffering comes into play. 

How Does Arizona Law Define Pain and Suffering?

Arizona law says there are two general types of pain and suffering:

  • Physical pain and suffering refers to the actual pain associated with the person’s injuries. This accounts for pain through the healing process, as well as chronic pain that may continue beyond the expected recovery and any future complications. Some examples of physical problems qualifying as “pain and suffering” might be: chronic back or neck pain, traumatic brain injury, broken or fractured bones, headaches, nerve damage, internal organ damage, dislocated joints, scarring, disfigurement, pulled or torn muscles or paralysis.  
  • Mental pain and suffering includes the emotional toll that the injury takes on the person, including depression, psychological trauma, grief, persistent fear, anxiety, PTSD, anger issues, diminished quality of life, loss of enjoyment, lack of purpose or energy, humiliation, shock, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, cognitive changes due to a head injury.

Here’s an example of this in action from Enjuris:

John is involved in a car accident on highway U.S. 93 just outside of Phoenix that results in several broken bones. It takes him 2 years to fully heal from the accident. During much of this time, he is bedridden and in extreme discomfort. On top of that, John is unable to participate in playing soccer with his friends—something he enjoyed prior to the accident. As a result, he becomes depressed and angry.

All of these problems (the physical discomfort, the depression, and the anger) constitute “pain and suffering” directly related to the accident and John would be entitled to compensation for these problems.

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated? 

There is no standard formula to calculate pain and suffering in Arizona. The two methods below are examples of a possible starting point. But always keep in mind that in certain cases differing guidelines can be used to begin calculating pain and suffering. More can go into the equation that an experienced attorney can help with.  

  • Multiplier method: When using the multiplier method, actual damages such as medical bills or lost wages are added together and multiplied by a number between one and five (the more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier). For example, let’s say you’re in a car accident and sustain a brain injury that results in $100,000 in medical expenses. Because a brain injury is considered a “severe” or “catastrophic” injury, it would receive a multiplier of 5. This would put the pain and suffering damages at $500,000.

Factors that go into identifying the multiplier include the type or severity of injury, type of medication, length of recovery, or the permanence of the injury. 

  • Per diem method: The per diem method assigns a dollar amount to every day between the injury to the day the victim achieves a full medical recovery.

For example, the victim could seek a per diem calculation of $100 a day. If they reach full recovery 300 days after the injury, they would multiply those 300 days by the $100 per diem payment and seek $30,000 in compensation for their pain and suffering.

The total amount of damages awarded for pain and suffering vary greatly from case to case which is why you should never rely on a specific formula. While some states place a limit on the amount of money an accident victim can recover, Arizona doesn’t put a cap on the amount that can be recovered for pain and suffering in personal injury cases.

You Deserve Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering

Because pain and suffering is hard to calculate and difficult to prove, you need an experienced legal team to present convincing evidence of how your injury has affected you. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.