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4 Things You Should Know About How Pain and Suffering is Calculated in Arizona

October 12, 2021

Pain and suffering from an Arizona injury accident can be difficult to calculate and even harder to demonstrate in court.  Under Arizona personal injury law, when someone else’s negligent actions lead to another person’s injury, the injured person can seek compensation. In Arizona, plaintiffs may recover damages from emotional pain and suffering caused by their injuries in addition to the injuries themselves.  At Jeff GOULD Law, we know that it can be overwhelming and confusing to try and figure out what types of compensation you may be entitled to if you have been injured. 

We’re breaking down how pain and suffering is calculated and what you need to know, generally, about these types of claims.

  1. What Types of Damages are Involved? 

In Arizona, there are three main types of damages

  1. Punitive damages

These are rare and are not usually included in most common civil actions for personal injury:  however, if and when appropriate, they may be requested in awards by jury/judge – to specifically punish the defendant when they clearly and intentionally caused injury to the plaintiff or acted with an “evil hand and mind.”

  1. Economic damages or SPECIAL DAMAGES:

Special damages are economic damages = are the most straightforward and simple to calculate and are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for monetary loss due to injuries. Damages most often include loss of wages and medical expenses. 

  1. Non-economic or GENERAL DAMAGES:  

General damages are non-economic losses = are intended to compensate the plaintiff for damage outside of monetary loss. Damages can be awarded for anxiety, general discomfort, loss of affection or companionship, or other forms of pain and suffering due to the defendant’s negligent acts and the resulting injuries. 

2. What is Pain and Suffering? 

In Arizona, “pain and suffering” itself refers to the physical and mental injuries sustained due to the accident. When a person is injured, they generally experience a certain degree of pain and suffering. Unlike economic damages, it can be challenging to calculate precisely the degree of pain and suffering that has occurred because of the injury. This can include the physical pain associated with the damage and the mental toll that the injury can take on the plaintiff. 

The following is an example of how an individual might experience pain and suffering in practice. 

John lives in Tucson and is driving home when he is hit by a negligent driver, which results in multiple broken bones. His injuries are so extensive that it takes him several years to heal fully, during which time he is in pain and bedridden. This means that he cannot go to work or participate in any of his extracurricular activities. As a result, John becomes depressed and angry. The physical pain and discomfort, the depression, and the anger all constitute pain and suffering as a direct result, proximately caused by the accident. Therefore, when the accident was the fault of the adverse driver who hit John – John would be entitled to compensation for the problems inflicted (General Damages) and the cost of the medical treatment (Special Damages) that was required. 

3. How Is Compensation Calculated?

Arizona injury laws seek to restore you – the injury victim, as closely as possible, to the original state before the accident occurred.  A monetary award can’t erase your pain, but it can help limit the suffering. 

The challenging part of pain and suffering claims is that it is difficult to calculate a person’s pain and suffering level. Because of how nuanced these claims can be, the courts have determined several factors that are looked at when determining how much compensation should be awarded. 

  • The type and severity of the injury
  • Medical treatments and medications required as a result
  • The permanence of the injury and length of recovery 
  • The nature of emotional damages inflicted 

While there is no “pain and suffering” calculator, there are two main methods – the multiplier and the per diem method – used to calculate pain and to suffer damages to be awarded. 

Per Diem

The per diem method, Latin for “per day,” demands a specific dollar amount for each day the plaintiff experienced pain and suffering. The most challenging part of utilizing this method in determining compensation is justifying the daily rate. Typically, the rate is determined by the daily earnings of the plaintiff before they were injured. Whatever the daily rate proposed is, it will likely be met with resistance from the defense. It’s essential to have quality representation as provided at Jeff GOULD Law, to have an Attorney in YOUR Corner, and to receive maximum compensation. 


A more common approach than per diem, the multiplier method involves calculating the cost of all economic damages inflicted and multiplying it by a set number, typically between 1.5 and 5. The higher this multiplier, the more is awarded. Special damages are the economic damages, as mentioned above, are specified and calculable total monetary losses due to the injury proximately caused by the accident. 

Determining the multiplier, or the number between 1.5 and 5, is based on specifics of the case like type and severity of the injury suffered. For example, if you experienced severe lifelong injuries from the accident that require significant ongoing expensive medical care, the multiplier used to calculate damages would be much higher, likely 4-5. On the other hand, if your injuries, medical treatment, and other issues resulting from them are minor, the multiplier would be less.  This method is more commonly used than per diem. Still, it does limit the ability of damage recovery from emotional problems resulting from the accident because it focuses on tangible economic damages. 

While they are harder to prove, non-economic damages can and are routinely to be included in the compensation amount for both calculation methods if the pain and suffering inflicted can be quantified in any way.

  1. What Documentation Will You Need to Support A Claim?

Whatever method is used, non-economic damages are difficult to calculate, so detailed concrete evidence of your pain and suffering is essential to document. Medical treatment records, written opinions of medical professionals and therapists, prescription history, and personal testimonies can all be extremely helpful in proving pain and suffering. These things will allow your attorney to include these non-economic damages when calculating the amount sought after, as they provide tangible evidence of pain and suffering beyond economic damages. 

Putting a monetary value to pain and suffering is challenging and complex, so experienced professional assistance is vital when reviewing these documents. If you or someone you love has been injured, contact Jeff GOULD Law, the Attorney in YOUR Corner, for maximum compensation based on both economic and non-economic damages. 

DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog/site is NOT, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  It is for general informational use only.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Further, this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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