If you’re like many people, you’ve heard that pain and suffering can be part of a personal injury lawsuit – but how would a jury in California even measure pain and suffering, and how much could you win in damages? This guide explains.
The Complete guide to Pain and Suffering Damages in a Lawsuit
The state of California doesn’t have a formula that judges can use to calculate the damages they award for pain and suffering (or other non-economic damages). However, the law does allow judges to use quite a bit of their own discretion when someone proves their pain and suffering during a personal injury lawsuit – and that means your award could vary quite a bit, depending on the circumstances of your case.
When a judge decides whether to award damages for pain and suffering, he or she will look at the severity of your injury, the defendant’s recklessness or intent, and how much evidence your attorney has provided to back up your claim.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages are damages that don’t have a fixed price tag on them. Non-economic damages are those that don’t come out of your wallet; they’re damages that you’ve suffered that aren’t related to finances.
For example, your lost wages are economic damages – the judge can figure out that if you make $80,000 per year and you were out of work for a year, you lost that $80,000. Likewise, the judge can see that you spent $3,500 on talking to a mental health professional after your injury – and he or she can make those awards without having to come up with a dollar figure.
What is the Average Settlement for Pain and Suffering?
Because lawsuits vary across the country – and because some places have caps on how much money a judge can award in damages for certain cases – there’s no average settlement for pain and suffering. The pain and suffering award from a minor injury would likely be far less than it would from an injury that results in paralysis, for example. The best way to figure out how much you’re likely to get for pain and suffering is to talk to a Los Angeles personal injury attorney.
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
Most insurance companies will try to calculate your pain and suffering payout before you ever set foot in a courtroom. Sometimes – despite how unscientific this method is – insurance companies will look at your medical bills and multiply them by a number between one and five to calculate how much they’re willing to pay for your pain and suffering.
If the insurance company won’t budge and offer you a reasonable settlement amount, your personal injury attorney will most likely encourage you to file a formal lawsuit. When you do that, the insurance company doesn’t get to decide how much it wants to pay you. A judge decides how much the insurance company will pay you.
How Can I Prove My Pain and Suffering?
Your attorney will have to prove your pain and suffering to the court in order for you to win this type of award. It’s important that you know that California doesn’t require you to have documented mental health symptoms in order to qualify for an award – but you may be more likely to receive an award if you have been diagnosed with symptoms associated with mental or emotional damage, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress injury
Your attorney will also share relevant information with the court, which can include things like:
- Medical records
- Photos of property damage or physical injury
- Videos or photos that demonstrate your life before and after the injury
- Social media posts, emails or other communications
- Sworn testimony from people who know you
- Expert testimony from relevant professionals
How Much Money Can You Get for Suing for Emotional Distress?
Your emotional distress award will vary based on several factors in your case, including the severity of your injuries and how your attorney proves your distress to the court. Your best bet is to get in touch with an LA personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and give you legal guidance.
Related: What can I sue for in California?
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Pain and Suffering Damages in a Lawsuit?
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you could be entitled to pain and suffering damages in a lawsuit, as well as other compensation. Call us right now at 818-230-8380 to talk about your case with a caring, compassionate and knowledgeable attorney – we’ll be happy to visit you at home or in the hospital, or discuss your situation over the phone or a video messaging app.