California is a state that offers pain and suffering damages for a personal injury lawsuit. But California has no court established or statutorily prescribed method to prove these types of damages. However, there are damage caps, restrictions, and considerations to understand. Ehline Law Firm will help you learn how a jury might calculate pain and suffering based on your emotional pain after dealing with medical treatment or surgery.
If you were in a serious accident or suffered from an injury that left you with emotional pain and suffering and physical pain, you aren’t alone.
The insurance company might not care about internal pain, but a California personal injury attorney can help you recover damages. It’s often more challenging to put a price on them, but Ehline Law Firm can help. Please call (833) LETS-SUE to get started with your case, and we’ll see what the jury thinks about your pain, discomfort, medical bills, and last wages.
First, you must understand the two categories of damages that are generally awarded in a California personal injury lawsuit.
Economic damages are calculated from actual costs.
Therefore, they include whatever you paid as a result of the injury and physical pain and are reimbursed, such as:
Economic damages generally include lost wages, such as the salary you lost from missing work because of your personal injury. However, this also consists of future earnings. If you can’t return to work or can only be at a reduced capacity and can’t earn as much as you did before the injury, that’s taken into consideration.
A lawyer can help you determine what you might have earned throughout your lifetime and see what you’re owed.
Personal injuries can be just about anything, though most people focus on a car accident or slip-and-fall that resulted in a broken bone. Other causes can include real property issues, contract disputes, and slander/libel. Those damages could be economic and lead to lost wages and the like, even without an actual injury.
Non-economic damages don’t have specific costs attached and can include the following:
Pain and suffering refer to the injuries a victim could sustain after an accident that might or might not lead to physical pain. Overall, pain and suffering include the pain the victim experiences because of their injuries and the emotional pain caused by the loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, anxiety, and more. Generally, they are considered non-economic because it’s harder to calculate them correctly, and they’re more subjective than compensation for tangible losses.
Of the above intangible losses, pain and suffering are the most significant damages awarded in any accident. To a court, pain and suffering refer to things like emotional distress, PTSD, day-to-day physical pain, and other detrimental effects faced by victims after an accident, for example. But how does your lawyer go about proving the physical and emotional items of loss you or a loved one are entitled to receive as money damages as a verdict or a settlement under the circumstances? Below are a few examples and explanations of limitations.
There are two types that lawyers regularly use to determine how much a client can receive in pain and suffering they are forced to endure:
Of the two methods, most plaintiffs’ attorneys historically have argued the multiplier method. The first compensation method we will discuss is called the “multiplier method.” This compensation calculation method involves totaling up your economic losses, including medical bills and lost wages, and multiplying that amount by a factor of 1 to 5, depending on the severity of the accident injuries a plaintiff has had to experience.
“Per diem” is a legal term for “per day” in ancient Latin. This method of damages calculation assigns a daily rate to the claimant’s pain and suffering from an accident-related injury in their life. The daily rate calculated must be relatively reasonable, so it may require more evidence the higher number you seek. For example, if you want $300 per day or your typical day’s wages, you must be able to prove you earned this amount. But then again, you are not arguing about lost wages.
You are arguing this is fair because the suffering you face is equal to or greater than the happiness you had from earning a living. However, you could also claim that $300 a day equals the cost of entry into Disneyland; hence, your suffering is equal to what you would have paid for a happy time at a theme park. Make sense so far using this example?
CAVEAT: Most importantly, under the Per Diem method, your severe damages compensation claim must correspond to the nature and extent of your injuries endured over the days and weeks of your life caused by the defendant or other at-fault parties.
California lawsuits in most personal injury claims seeking pain and suffering include things commonly experienced in claims for:
The exception here is that California doesn’t offer pain and suffering damages for workers’ compensation claims, which can be difficult to swallow depending on the accident injuries the plaintiff has experienced in your body for months on end or for life.
Another significant exception is medical malpractice suits, as they become limited by statute. You may recover $250,000 in pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. So calculating pain and suffering become less significant to quantify and less important as a dollar figure than a case against a non-physician or a caretaker, for example. Although this can lead to incredible frustration, California voted for these Draconian laws, which harm victims and helps negligent hospitals continue profiting at the citizen’s expense.
California has no set formula for calculating pain and suffering. To recover the damages for pain and suffering, such as mental distress or other economic damages, a plaintiff has to prove they suffered the harm or will suffer in the future because of the injury.
Many factors are involved in determining whether the personal injury settlement includes pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages are generally awarded when there’s a physical injury along with the following:
A tort involves any civil wrong that caused someone to suffer harm or loss when another entity or person is legally responsible. This doesn’t include criminal cases.
There may be no physical injury with “intentional infliction of emotional distress” or “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” Still, they are causes of action within tort law and can include pain and suffering.
After suffering pain physically, you may also be hurt inside. There are many ways to calculate pain and suffering, but the law uses no clear-cut method. You are calling witnesses like family and doctors can be vital to bolster your recovery by quantifying their experiences with you and how it has negatively harmed the value of your life.
Using a journal and day-in-the-life videos can also help with the numbers multiplied to tally your damages in building your award. Expert witnesses, including life care planners and economists, can also help prove whatever formula you use to document and prove these damages in your community and on your behalf.
The most popular ways to determine the amount of mental suffering include the following:
Generally, this is the most recognized method to calculate pain and suffering. The multiplier method seeks to recover calculable compensation, including medical bills and lost income. It uses them to calculate unknown expenses by multiplying them by a particular number, usually anywhere from 1.5 to four.
Personal injury attorneys often use the per-diem method to determine pain and suffering awards. They ask a jury to assign the daily rate of a victim’s pain and suffering, multiplying that by the number of days they believe the issue will continue.
There are many other factors that determine how much pain and suffering compensation is awarded in a personal injury case. This includes the location where the injury occurred, where the trial is held, ad more. Certain communities are friendlier toward plaintiffs than others.
Documenting mental health symptoms isn’t required in California to prove pain and suffering.
However, your case may result in an award if you’re diagnosed w the following:
In a motorcycle accident with less physical protection, expect the pain and suffering or PTSD damages to be higher than in a typical car accident. If you want to seek pain and suffering compensation through a lawsuit, there are important things you must do as you move in this direction. Your lawyer must evaluate the evidence, including:
When creating a personal injury claim and trying to get pain and suffering damages, it’s wise to hire an attorney. Our quality, the aggressive legal team can help you get compensated for lost wages, medical bills, and more. Clients depend on us to get properly compensated, depending on their type of case and facts, and so can you!
We can guide your court case strategy and tactics for the big win if you qualify! If you were injured because another party was negligent, such as in a car accident, you require an attorney to get you the compensation you deserve. You were physically injured and lost income because of it, but you may also be dealing with emotional distress. Ehline Law Firm can help you fight for an appropriate award and calculate pain and suffering damages for your personal injury case.
Whether you’re dealing with a company, a person, or an insurance company, pain and suffering is likely part of your case. Please call (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation to help build your case today! A world-class Los Angeles personal injury attorney is standing by. You can also use our online contact us form to discuss your case via email 24/7!
It’s easy and risk-free, and we take no money unless you form an attorney-client relationship. Even then, we stand behind our no-recovery, no-fee promise to give you total trust and security in the confidential legal representation you are entitled to expect as a consumer in CA.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.