blog home Car Accidents What Does Pain and Suffering Mean Legally in California?

What Does Pain and Suffering Mean Legally in California?

By San Diego Attorney on February 29, 2020

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
  • Shock
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Insomnia
  • Inconvenience
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Grief
  • Humiliation
  • 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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Posted in: Car Accidents

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Friday May 1st, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el viernes 1 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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