Pain & Suffering Laws in California
Trauma has a way of making its effects clear long after the initial incident that caused injury. This is true for both physical and mental injuries. In the case of unexpected accidents, both types of trauma may be experienced at once. Claims for non-medical, non-economic damages relating to this trauma are recognized under the law as pain and suffering damages. California personal injury lawyers can provide insight into the finer points of the legal definition of pain and suffering, as well as its application for their clients. For now, let’s explore the basics.
How California Law Defines Pain and Suffering
The broad category of non-economic damages related to pain and suffering is often abbreviated to just that phrase, but California law recognizes all of the following non-economic claims for damages as part of a civil suit. Not all of them apply to all injury cases, but each may apply under the certain circumstances.
- Physical pain & suffering
- Mental suffering
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Lawyers who help with pain and suffering typically deal with the first three categories when making claims related to accidents. In extreme cases like severe auto crashes, one or more of the last four could come into play as well. A lot depends on the facts of the case, which is why it’s always a good idea to review the details of a case with a lawyer before committing to a plan of action. Reputable personal injury lawyers have a lot of experience with the way cases play out in the state’s courts, so a professional opinion about the claim’s merits can be clarified in many ways.
How To Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
Unlike many other states with pain and suffering clauses written into the civil code, California does not have a set calculator to determine awards in this category. There are some industry standards recognized by insurance companies and based on averages in certain categories of accidents awarded by trial juries, but they are not necessarily indicative of the numbers any particular plaintiff could be awarded by a jury. Personal injury lawyers learn to adapt these standards to the realities of each case with time and practice, but the value of the claim always revolves around the extent of the suffering and its certainty into the future.
Claims related to post traumatic stress disorder, long-term suffering related to pain from injuries that never go away, and other tangible instances of ongoing suffering or pain are the easiest to prove if it comes down to a trial and the easiest to quantify. That is because they also frequently accompany direct economic claims like lost earning capacity or ongoing medical expenses.
There are many cases where the California civil code specifically instructs juries to award pain and suffering, as well as many others where it is an appropriate addition to claims.
To learn more if you’ve been involved in a catastrophic accident, contact our California personal injury attorneys today for a free no obligation consultation.