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How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in South Carolina?

When you are injured in an accident, getting damages for pain and suffering can be an important part of your recovery. It is important to know what these damages are for and how much they can be worth.

In South Carolina, pain and suffering damages are typically calculated by looking at the severity of your pain, suffering, lost enjoyment of life, mental/emotional harm, and other non-economic damages. Worse harm equates to higher damages. The actual numerical method used to calculate these damages either uses a multiplier applied to your economic damages or a per diem rate for pain and suffering.

For help knowing what your injury case is worth, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. Call today at (803) 451-4000 for a free case review.

What Damages Go into Pain and Suffering Calculations in South Carolina

Generally speaking, the term “pain and suffering” is used somewhat interchangeably with the broader term “non-economic damages.”  Non-economic damages include a wide range of harms you could face, and pain and suffering is generally considered just one part of that. However, many other non-economic damages, such as lost spousal benefits, could still be lumped under either umbrella term somewhat interchangeably. The majority of non-economic damages ultimately fall under this “pain and suffering” umbrella and often include the following harms:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Embarrassment
  • Discomfort
  • Lost reputation
  • Fear from the accident
  • Fear of re-injury
  • Disfigurement/scarring


Many of these terms are somewhat interchangeable as well and cover similar phenomena. Ultimately, any negative feelings brought on by the accident and injury that can’t be claimed as part of a bill or financial cost can generally contribute to your overall pain and suffering damages.

Our Columbia personal injury lawyers can sit with you and discuss how the injury affected your life, helping us detail what areas of pain and suffering you experienced and how severe those experiences were. Going over these harms might be difficult, but it is a very important step in calculating your overall pain and suffering damages.

Calculation Methods for Pain and Suffering Damages in South Carolina

Courts and insurance companies often use one of two methods when trying to put monetary values on the experiences that make up your pain and suffering damages. There are definite pros and cons to both systems, and different situations often make one easier to use than the other. Our South Carolina personal injury lawyers can help use these calculation methods to get initial estimates for pain and suffering, then adjust your claim up or down depending on the results.

Multiplier Method

When using the multiplier method, you choose a multiplier based on how bad your pain and suffering was, typically ranging from 1.5 to 5. More severe injuries and worse effects get a higher multiplier; more mild injuries get a lower multiplier. The multiplier is then applied to your other economic damages to get how much you should claim in non-economic/pain and suffering damages.

This method is great when there are a lot of factors that go into your pain and suffering, and you need a simple tool to calculate fair pain and suffering. Using a multiplier is also good with open-ended injuries that will cause pain and suffering for a long time, as that can be accounted for with a higher multiplier. This method is also helpful if you have a low income (more on that in the following section). However, boiling down all of your mental and emotional harm to a simple number from 1.5 to 5 seems a bit arbitrary and might not be able to fully capture the suffering you faced.

Per Diem Method

Instead of using a multiplier and determining your pain and suffering based on the other damages you faced, the per diem method assigns a per day cost to your pain and suffering and pays you that value multiplied by the number of days you experienced pain and suffering. As a starting point, courts and insurance companies typically use your average daily wages to determine your pain and suffering, then adjust up or down depending on how severe your pain and suffering is.

This method works well when your pain and suffering is easily defined, and a price value can be easily applied to the suffering. It also works well when the pain and suffering lasted for a definite period; ongoing pain and suffering is harder to predict and put a number of days on. Moreover, this method does not work well if your income is very high or very low. Using income as a starting point is somewhat arbitrary since low-income people don’t necessarily experience lower pain and suffering than higher-income people.

Determining Final Pain and Suffering Values

In any case, the method you use to calculate pain and suffering damages will set you up with a starting point. Ultimately, your South Carolina personal injury lawyers can adjust the calculated values up or down to fairly account for things the calculation methods might not be equipped to handle.

For example, judges and juries might not be willing to pay high damages for pain and suffering when the economic damages in your case are quite low. This can make recovery difficult in cases where there is little in the way of physical harm or medical expenses but a lot of mental and emotional harm. Some states address this issue by placing formal caps or limits on non-economic damages. Still, South Carolina does not use caps except in lawsuits for medical malpractice and lawsuits against the government.

Talk to your South Carolina lawyer about other considerations that might help you get your pain and suffering compensated in full. And always keep in mind that when you go to court, courts and juries can always decide to calculate damages differently and award values that are drastically different than what you claimed. In the end, juries might not stick to any particular calculation method, and their damage awards can be somewhat arbitrary. Having an experienced Sumter personal injury lawyer argue your case and back up why your claim uses the particular value it does can be helpful in getting you the damages you deserve.

Call Our South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you need help with a personal injury case, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today for a free case review. Our number is (803) 451-4000.