Dateline: September, 2010, Issue 3

Do larger per diem requests for noneconomic damages lead to larger awards?

Noneconomic damages are often valued through per diem requests to juries. A per diem request assigns a monetary value to a small unit of time (e.g., $15 per hour, $240 per day) and then multiplies that value by the number of units (e.g., hours, days, weeks, months) in which injury is or will be sustained to yield a figure for pain and suffering.

Laughery and colleagues (2001) studied per diem requests to compensate a victim for pain and suffering for the remainder of the victim's life due to a consumer product accident. In the context of a presented case, one group of jurors heard a request for a per diem of $1 per day. Another group of jurors heard a request for a per diem of $50 per day. Yet other groups of jurors heard a per diem request for either $100 per day, $200 per day or $1,000 per day.

The noneconomic damages that jurors awarded did not differ for per diem requests of $1, $50 and $100 per day.

The damages awarded for a per diem request of $200 per day were higher than the damages awarded for per diem requests of $1, $50 or $100 per day.

Even though seemingly excessive, the $1,000 per day request yielded the largest noneconomic damage awards.

Larger per diem requests lead to larger pain and suffering awards.

Source Laughery, K.R., Paige, D., Bean, R.N., & Wogalter, M.S. (2001). Pain and suffering awards for consumer product accidents: Effects of suggesting day-rate information. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 45th Annual Meeting, pp. 843-847.