Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case

One element of a Personal Injury case that can be confusing is calculating pain and suffering. When you receive bodily injury or mental anguish from being in an accident, there usually is some degree of pain and suffering that goes along with the obvious injuries. However, pain and suffering is unique to every person, and that is one reason it is difficult to analyze and value. An experienced Californian Personal Injury Lawyer knows how to help you present valid claims for this area of your accident injuries.

Personal Injury Accidents

There are many types of accidents that are included in Personal Injury law at the federal and state levels. In California, people can seek compensation for pain and suffering that is a result of being in an accident. There are two distinct types of pain and suffering to consider, physical and mental. Physical damage is more obvious and often is immediate, while mental pain and suffering can be hidden and may not be evident until long after the accident occurs. Even the actual act of being injured physically can trigger additional mental anguish and emotional suffering.

Personal Injury accidents include a wide range of events, from car accidents to medical malpractice, discrimination and more. The types of injuries that occur from these different types of actions vary, from physical harm to emotional or mental harm. Determining the extent of pain or suffering that a victim endures can be difficult to diagnose. When those accidents are due to the negligent behavior of another person or a company, a victim has an even stronger case for claiming fair compensation.

California Personal Injury Claims

California is one of two states that have placed a cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for pain and suffering. In Ohio and California, this maximum is set at $250,000. In 1975, California passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), as part of a response to claims in medical malpractice lawsuits. Non-economic damages are the things like pain and suffering that have no firm monetary value, as do medical costs for actual treatment or surgery. This cap does not apply to claims for future medical care, work loss or other economic damage claims.

California Personal Injury claims include a wide variety of costs associated with accident injuries. When the accident is proven to be due to negligent behavior, juries may also levy punitive damages against the defendants in addition to other awards to the plaintiff. How a jury calculates monetary fairness for non-economic damages like pain and suffering is often left up to their experience and judgment. In some cases, a calculation can be done that multiplies actual costs by a certain factor, usually from 1.5 to 5, to allow awards for pain and suffering.

The multiplier that is used is also affected by other elements of the trial and case. Items that may come into play here include:

  • Plaintiff’s demeanor, honesty, credibility and likeability as a witness
  • If plaintiff is perceived as exaggerating their pain and suffering
  • Medical record and physician support of claims
  • If claims make sense to the jury

Pain and Suffering

What constitutes pain and suffering? This is part of the equation presented to defendants and juries in a personal injury case. While it may be very subjective, unique to the person who was injured, there are many examples that are easy to understand. One thing included in personal injury cases is the fact that the injuries were caused by negligent behavior.

  • Medical malpractice occurs when treatment is sub-standard and causes additional injury, either physical or mental and emotional. Failure to properly diagnose a problem may cause the patient additional suffering or death. Birth injuries can cause lifetime problems for a new baby. Likewise, pharmaceutical errors can cause great harm if the wrong drug is prescribed or delivered to a patient or given to the wrong person.
  • If a part or equipment is defective and fails to perform, people can be seriously injured or killed. This is seen in reports of injuries or death due to defective automotive parts, such as seat belts, tires or airbags. The manufacturer, designer, installer or seller of these defective parts may be included in a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Drivers who cause accidents because their attention is distracted by cell phone use, texting or conversing with other passengers are accused of negligent behavior and may be sued for damages caused when they hit another vehicle or pedestrian, causing bodily harm, pain and suffering.

Many arguments are made about what constitutes pain and suffering in a personal injury case. Pain and suffering can include many problems, now and in the future. A victim may experience high anxiety after an accident occurs, they may feel depressed, be unable to sleep, lose their enjoyment of life and have other problems well into the future. Pain is subjective also, and the depth of pain depends on an individual’s pain threshold. Trying to describe pain is difficult, but that may be a valid question from the jury during a trial. Severe mental pain after an accident is now called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Pain and suffering can also cause future work loss claims. When an accident victim suffers mental pain, they may be unable to return to work or do their job properly for some time. This economic damage is added to other costs related to the original accident.

Proving pain and suffering is best accomplished with the assistance of an experienced California Personal Injury Attorney. If you have suffered injury from an accident due to negligent behavior, consult with this lawyer immediately to make sure you are building a solid case to recover all potential damage claims, including your pain and suffering. There is no reason you should suffer needless financial pain on top of your other physical and mental injuries. Get sound legal advice and representation now, so you can return to your normal lifestyle as soon as possible, without undue financial stress.