| Read Time: 5 minutes | Personal Injury
pain and suffering attorney los angeles

Being injured is unfortunate, but it stings even worse when someone else’s carelessness is to blame for causing the injury. In situations like this, there are laws to help you get back on your feet and protect your rights.

You might be able to sue the person who caused your injury to cover things like medical bills through economic damages. Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering may be available as well.

Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical and emotional pain you experience because of your injury. And it’s not just about pain—it’s also about the fear, anxiety, and frustration you might feel from the experience of being injured. Let’s dive into how these types of damages are determined. 

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t wait to understand your options. Contact Peerali Law today for a free consultation. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Who Decides Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

If you reach a personal injury settlement, the damages will be based on the settlement agreement you reach with the insurance company. The amount of your settlement will depend on the evidence and the outcome the parties expect to achieve if they take the case to court.

If a personal injury case goes to court, the jury decides the amount of damages awarded. However, the judge plays a vital role in the process. Here’s how:

  • Jury instructions. The judge instructs the jury on the law and what types of damages they can consider (economic and noneconomic). Economic damages help you recover what you lost monetarily because of the injury, whereas noneconomic damages are more about how the injury made you feel, both physically and emotionally.
  • Evidence admissibility. The judge decides what evidence, such as medical records and witness testimonies, can be presented to the jury.
  • Reviewing jury verdicts. The judge has the authority to review the jury’s verdict and may order a new trial if they believe the damages awarded were unreasonably high or low. 

So while juries have the final say in setting the damage amount, the judge oversees the process and ensures it’s conducted fairly based on the law and evidence presented. 

What Factors Influence Pain and Suffering Damages?

Because every injury is different, the applicable factors will be different in every case. However, here are some of the key factors that affect the amount of pain and suffering damages:

  • Severity of the injury. A broken leg with surgery will likely result in more pain and suffering damages than a minor bruise. The extent of your injury, the type of treatment required, and the medical records documenting it are considered. 
  • Length of recovery. How long it takes you to heal fully plays a big role. If your injury takes months or even years to recover from, you’ll likely receive more compensation. 
  • Impact on your daily life. Did your injury prevent you from working or participating in hobbies you enjoy? The more your life is disrupted, the higher the pain and suffering damages might be. 
  • Emotional distress. Painful injuries can cause anxiety, depression, or difficulty sleeping. These emotional effects are factored into pain and suffering damages. 
  • Age and health. Younger individuals may heal faster than someone older with the same injury. Pre-existing health conditions can also affect how much pain you experience. 

California courts encourage juries to consider these factors and other relevant evidence presented during the case. Understanding these factors and how they influence pain and suffering damages can give you valuable insight into the personal injury legal process.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages

There are two main methods lawyers use to estimate pain and suffering damages. These include:

  • Multiplier method. This method multiplies your economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) by a number between 1 and 5. The multiplier used depends on the severity of the injury, as more serious injuries result in greater pain and suffering.
  • Per diem method. This method assigns a daily dollar value to your pain and suffering. The number considers the factors mentioned above and is then multiplied by the number of days you experience pain. 

These methods provide a starting point for negotiation. Ultimately, if you go to trial, juries have a lot of discretion in deciding pain and suffering damages in California. There is not a fixed formula for pain and suffering damages.

California’s model jury instructions direct juries to award an amount that is reasonable based on the evidence presented in the case. Reasonable means that the compensation should be fair and proportionate to the severity of the injury and the impact it had on your life.

Is There a Cap on Damages That Can Be Awarded?

California doesn’t have a general cap on pain and suffering damages in most personal injury cases. This means the jury has flexibility to award an amount that reflects the true impact of the injury. This can be especially helpful in cases with catastrophic injuries that have a lasting impact.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, in medical malpractice cases, California law does place a cap on noneconomic damages, which includes pain and suffering.

This cap is currently set at $390,000 (as of May 2024) and increases every year until it reaches $750,000. Additionally, the cap for wrongful death resulting from medical malpractice is currently set at $550,000 and increases every year by $50,000 until it reaches $1,000,000. It’s important to note that this cap applies only to noneconomic damages, so economic damages like medical bills are not affected. 

What Can You Do to Maximize Your Pain and Suffering Damages?

If you’ve been injured, here are some steps you can take to help your case:

  • Seek medical attention right away. This creates a record of your injuries and the pain you’re experiencing.
  • Keep a pain journal. Document your daily pain levels, how your injury affects your life, and any emotional distress you experience. 
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. This shows you’re taking steps to heal and minimize your pain. 

Contact a personal injury lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, estimate your damages, and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

By following these steps, you can strengthen your case and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Ready to Get Back on Your Feet? Contact Peerali Law Today 

If you have more questions about what is pain and suffering, who decides damages, and how damages are determined, reach out to our attorneys. A qualified lawyer can be a valuable asset in helping you navigate the legal process.  

At Peerali Law, we believe in helping good people get justice. Our focus as personal injury lawyers goes beyond just legal expertise.

We’re passionate about achieving outstanding results for our clients, as evidenced by the millions of dollars we have recovered on behalf of our clients. We will fight tirelessly to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

If you or a loved one has been injured, let Peerali Law stand by your side. We’ll navigate the legal complexities for you so you can focus on healing and getting back on your feet. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Kristopher earned his J.D. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he was a member of the Review of Law and Social Justice honors law journal and was awarded several scholastic honors.

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