Personal Injury Law Blog

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in California

After an accident, the physical injuries you endured make up only a part of the accident’s impact on your life. Along with physical injuries, comes pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damages available through a personal injury lawsuit.

Non-economic damages compensate accident victims for the mental anguish or psychological harm—like pain and suffering—they sustained in the accident.

Economic damages, on the other hand, deal with the out-of-pocket costs an accident victim faces. For example, economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and a decrease in earning capacity.

While it’s relatively straightforward to estimate the costs of economic damage, pain and suffering damages are much more subjective. Accidents impact peoples’ lives in very different ways, and some injuries are more painful than others.

However, understanding how to calculate pain and suffering in California is an essential part of the recovery process after an accident as these damages can be substantial.

What Can Impact My Pain and Suffering Damages?

Like many states, there is no set formula for how to calculate pain and suffering in California. In other words, there is no pain and suffering calculator in California. However, when an insurance company or a court assesses a claim for damages, they will consider certain information, including:

  • The amount of economic damages;
  • The severity of the accident victim’s injuries;
  • Whether the defendant’s actions were reckless or intentional; and
  • The quality of the accident victim’s evidence supporting their claim.

Thus, in most cases, pain and suffering damages are greater in accident cases resulting in severe injuries.

Additionally, the more objective evidence of an accident victim’s physical injuries, the easier it will be for them to establish pain and suffering damages. For example, a car accident resulting in a victim’s permanent disability will likely result in a higher pain and suffering award than a slip-and-fall accident involving only minor injuries.

In California, there is no legal requirement that an accident victim proves they suffered any mental health conditions to establish pain and suffering damages. However, if you were diagnosed with any of the following, it will help you establish your claim for pain and suffering damages:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • Insomnia,
  • Depression, or
  • Anxiety.

To effectively bring a claim for pain and suffering damages, the following evidence is helpful:

  • Medical records,
  • Photographs of your injuries, and
  • Evidence of your physical limitations after the accident.

If you have videos or photographs of what your life was like before the accident in comparison to your post-accident condition, it can help convince a judge or jury of the extent of your pain and suffering. Often, social media posts are a good source of evidence.

However, even if you don’t have video evidence, you may be able to present sworn affidavits from friends or family members that illustrate your limitations.

Should I Talk with Insurance Adjusters About My Injuries?

After an accident, one or more insurance adjusters will contact you. Insurance adjusters want to know about the accident, your injuries, and how your injuries impacted your life. While you should talk to the insurance company, it is important to remember that the insurance companies are not on your side.

When an insurance adjuster reaches out to you after an accident, they will use any information you provide them to reduce the value of your claim. The insurance company may even deny your claim.

So when talking to an insurance adjuster—even with your own insurance company—it is important that you remain truthful but also refrain from making any admissions or other statements that the insurance company could use to avoid fairly compensating you for your injuries.

Every case is different. However, in many California personal injury cases, pain and suffering damages make up a significant portion of the total damages award. In fact, there is no California pain and suffering cap for damages in personal injury lawsuits, except in medical malpractice cases.

An experienced California personal injury lawyer can help you identify the full extent of your damages, so you know what to expect from the insurance company. That way, if an insurance company makes a less-than-fair offer, you are prepared to negotiate for a higher settlement amount.

Should I Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, one of the first things you should do is contact a lawyer. In fact, a 2014 study by the  Insurance Resource Council found that accident victims who worked with a personal injury lawyer recovered 3.5 times more in damages than those who brought the claim on their own.

However, not only can an attorney increase the amount of damages you recover, but they can also help make the recovery process much easier on you.

When you bring a dedicated California personal injury lawyer onto your team, they will handle all the heavy lifting. They will investigate your claim, prepare all filings, interview witnesses, and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.

A lawyer can also develop a compelling case for recovery and present it to the insurance company. Often, this results in a favorable settlement offer, eliminating the need for a lengthy trial.

If the insurance company is unwilling to fairly compensate you for what you’ve been through, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit asking a judge or jury to determine the appropriate amount of damages.

Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you suffered injuries in an accident, you reach out to a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Glotzer & Leib, LLP, we recognize that after suffering debilitating injuries in an accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with an insurance company. At the same time, you have accident-related expenses, and it shouldn’t be up to you to foot the bill.

Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers have decades of experience advocating on behalf of accident victims just like you. We’ve helped countless individuals and families recover the compensation they need to begin moving on with their lives, and we look forward to seeing what we can do to help you with your claim.

To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give Glotzer & Leib a call at 844-821-5271. You can also reach us through our online contact form

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