What Does Pain and Suffering Mean Legally in California?
In most personal injury cases, economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, are the core elements of the claim. However, many accidents caused by someone else’s negligence also result in pain and suffering, which can adversely affect a victim’s recovery. Damages for pain and suffering, with certain restrictions, are allowed under state law.
What Is Pain and Suffering Under California Law?
Non-economic damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering.” Unlike economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, non-economic (pain and suffering) damages are not quantifiable based on hard evidence, such as a stack of medical bills or pay stubs for wages earned before the injury. Nor are they as easily calculated. Pain and suffering damages include losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of a limb or an organ
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Inability to engage in pleasurable activities
- Loss of consortium (loss of spousal benefits)
Is There a Cap on Non-Economic Damages?
There are no caps on non-economic damages in California, except for medical malpractice cases, which is set at $250,000. For every other type of personal injury case, a plaintiff seeking non-economic damages can be awarded any amount the jury deems appropriate.
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
There is no paper trail for non-economic damages, which makes them more difficult to calculate than economic damages. You do not receive a bill or statement for emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life. Despite the lack of hard physical evidence, pain and suffering damages do exist.
Lacking direct evidence, a skilled personal injury attorney can bring objective evidence to settlement negotiations or trial to help support claims of pain and suffering. Examples of such objective evidence include:
- Medical records
- CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and other diagnostics
- Notes from doctors or therapists
- Expert witness testimony regarding medical suffering
- Evidence of time away from work and lost wages
- Pictures of property damage and injuries
- Testimony or videos showing the plaintiff’s activity level before and after the injuries
There are no set amounts awarded for pain and suffering and non-economic losses. Damages will depend on the severity of the injuries and other factors of the case, as determined by the jury.
Why You Need a Lawyer
With an experienced lawyer by your side, you have the best chance of recovering the maximum amount for pain and suffering damages. Our San Diego personal injury attorney at jD LAW, P.C. can:
- Thoroughly investigate your accident
- Obtain and preserve evidence to support your claim
- Build a strong case based on the facts
- Negotiate skillfully on your behalf
- Fight for your rights in court, if necessary
We have the expertise and experience to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve after a serious personal injury. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation.
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