When you are injured because of the negligence of another person, you might be able to pursue financial compensation for your pain and suffering. In California, state law allows for individuals who suffer physical or emotional distress to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive damages from the liable party. Whether you’ve sustained a small inconvenience or are dealing with long-term physical and psychological issues, looking into all available legal solutions is important. Here’s what you need to know about suing for pain and suffering in California so that you can make an informed decision.
Pain and suffering damages in personal injury claims
Pain and suffering damages in California are the compensation plaintiffs can obtain in certain personal injury lawsuits because of the mental anguish and physical pain they suffer because of an injury.
These are a type of compensatory damages that are in a classification of “non-economic damages” that also include other damages like loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium.
There is not a recognized set standard that a jury or judge can use to determine a pain and suffering reward. Instead, a plaintiff will normally show evidence of physical pain and emotional trauma and a judgment is made on a “reasonable” amount of money for the damages.
Parties will frequently use a “multiplier method” to help estimate pain and suffering losses. Under this approach, you or your lawyer multiplies your economic damages by a number between 1 and 5. The more severe the injuries and the greater the suffering, the higher the multiplier.
What is pain and suffering under California law?
State law states that pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damages that you can request in a personal injury case. They consist of experiences, losses, or inconveniences such as:
- suffering and psychological trauma
- psychological distress
- loss of a limb or organ (or its use)
- loss of quality of life
- loss of enjoyment of life
When can you claim pain and suffering in California?
Pain and suffering can be part of a claim in California for most personal injuries, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Intentional torts
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Slip and fall
- Defective products
The exception to this is that California does not permit pain and suffering damages in workers’ compensation cases.
How are pain and suffering damages calculated?
In personal injury cases where compensation is provided for non-economic losses, there is no fixed standard for determining the monetary value of a pain and suffering reward.
If you prove that you suffered certain physical injuries and/or mental pain, a judge or jury will then use its judgment to decide a fair dollar amount for pain and suffering damages.
While pain and suffering damages compensate you for subjective losses, they are typically proven with unbiased evidence. You may need to present:
- Test results, such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans
- Doctor or therapist notes
- Medical records and bills showing the extent of treatment
- Before-and-after photos or videos showing decreased activity levels or quality of life
- Photos of property damages and physical injuries
- Testimony from friends, co-workers, family members, witnesses
- Expert testimony pertaining to suffering, brain injuries, lost earning capacity
If you were injured in an accident because of the negligence of others, then you may be entitled to full financial compensation. The best way to learn if you have a claim for pain and suffering is to talk to a California personal injury lawyer that is experienced in taking on personal injury claims involving pain and suffering or other non-economic damages and will do what they can to get you the highest award possible.