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What Is ‘Pain And Suffering’ In A Personal Injury Case?

When ‘Pain and Suffering’ Transforms into Justice and Compensation

Personal injury pain and suffering is crucial, yet understanding and explaining it can be difficult. This word encompasses both physical and mental suffering for the victim.

Quick Summary:

This article discusses the critical aspect of “pain and suffering” in personal injury cases, encompassing both physical and emotional distress.

Key Points:

  • Definition of Pain and Suffering: Includes physical and emotional injuries post-accident.Extends to mental suffering and qualifies for settlement. Wrongful death claims can include pain and suffering for the victim’s family.
  • Physical Pain and Suffering: Negligence-related accidents lead to significant physical suffering. Conditions like chronic pain, fractures, and paralysis may qualify. Some injuries result in persistent physical pain, impacting the victim’s quality of life.
  • Emotional Pain and Suffering: Emotional distress includes trauma, fear, insomnia, and PTSD. Severe emotional pain can cause permanent, lifelong damage.
  • Loss of Consortium: Families of deceased victims can claim loss of care, companionship, and more.Grief and mental anguish post-accident support claims.
  • California Regulations: Laws guide claiming damages. There is no cap on recoverable non-economic damages, except in medical malpractice cases.
  • Calculating Damages: Objective evidence crucial for proving non-economic damages. Methods include the pain and suffering multiplier and per diem approaches.
  • Time Limits in California: General two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits. Exceptions for minors, absent defendants, medical malpractice, and government entities.
  • Discovery Rule Exception: The Statute of limitations can be extended if injuries are not immediately apparent. The discovery rule allows victims to seek legal recourse after becoming aware of the injury.
  • Seeking Legal Help: Navigating personal injury cases can be complex. Haffner Law offers experienced attorneys for personal injury claims and related areas.

  What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?

Post-accident “pain and suffering” includes both emotional and physical suffering. This term includes mental and bodily suffering, which may qualify for personal injury compensation. If a victim dies due to negligence, their family can sue for wrongful death.

Physical Pain and Suffering

Accidents caused by negligence can cause days of physical pain in personal injury claims. Some serious injuries cause chronic pain for months, years, or forever.

Victims may endure a range of physical conditions that could qualify for compensation, including:

  • Back pain
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Neck pain
  • Fractured or broken bones
  • Internal organ damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Severe headaches
  • Pulled or sprained muscles
  • Dislocated joints
  • Paralysis

Due to the permanence of some of these conditions, victims may experience persistent physical pain, vastly affecting their quality of life.

Emotional Pain and Suffering

In addition to physical suffering, victims might also undergo emotional suffering causing severe mental and psychological distress. This emotional pain can manifest as:

  • Psychological trauma
  • Fear
  • Insomnia
  • Worry
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Cognitive changes post-head or brain injury
  • Loss or diminishment of the quality of life
  • Frustration
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Such emotional pain can be so severe, causing permanent, lifelong damage, and negatively impacting the victim’s life.

Loss of Consortium

After a personal injury accident, victims’ relatives can sue for wrongful death. This claim may include ‘loss of consortium,’ a type of family distress.

For bereaved families, loss of consortium can include loss of:

  • Care
  • Companionship
  • Parental guidance
  • Spousal intimacy
  • Love and affection
  • Household services

The grief and mental anguish experienced by families after the preventable accident underpins their claim for special awards for the pain and suffering caused by the loss of a loved one.

What Types of Pain and Suffering are Compensable? 

In California, legally, several types of emotional and physical distress are eligible for compensation following an accident. These categories, which form an integral part of a lawsuit, are commonly recognized as pain and suffering:

  • Persistent Rage (Anger): Following an incident, if there is continuous anger, which was not previously existent.
  • Worry or Uneasiness (Anxiety): This encompasses stress, tension, or disquietude.
  • Fear or Uncertainty (Apprehension): If an accident has caused a reasonable amount of fear or uncertainty about potential harm, affecting regular living.
  • Defamation (Damage to Reputation): Pertains to false statements circulating about you that tarnish your image among your community, family, or colleagues.
  • Personality Changes (Depression): Significant mood shifts and changes in thinking or behavior caused by the accident.
  • Physical Deformity (Disfigurement) Refers to any permanent damage or alterations to physical appearance, like scarring.
  • Disgrace (Embarrassment): Associated with feelings of shame or humbling.
  • Sudden Fear (Fright): If the accident causes sudden, intense fear affecting your daily life.
  • Sorrow for Loss (Grief): This applies if you have lost a loved one or a valued possession due to the accident.
  • Sense of Dishonor (Humiliation): This comprises feelings of being dishonored or belittled.
  • Loss of Self-worth (Indignity): Pertains to the harm to self-esteem caused by ill-treatment, offensive remarks, or deliberate disregard.
  • Difficulty or Disruption (Inconvenience): Any undue stress or difficulties resulting from the event.
  • Deep Shame (Mortification): Experiencing a severely wounded ego.
  • Restlessness (Nervousness): Pertains to unusual restlessness or agitation.
  • Distressing Experience (Ordeal): Refers to painful, horrific experiences caused by an accident.
  • Psychological Impact (Shock): The mental harm experienced from witnessing or being part of a trauma.
  • Extreme Fear (Terror): Intense fear of harm or death.

These distress categories, both mental and physical, are compensable under California law and can be legally pursued for reimbursement.

California Regulations Related to Pain and Suffering Damages

California law helps personal injury claimants understand less-quantifiable damages. California permits plaintiffs to seek non-economic damages without requirements. However, there are some essential rules:

California Civil Code 3333.4

This code limits pain and suffering damages for motor vehicle accidents involving DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or uninsured drivers.

California Civil Code 3333.3

This law prohibits pain and suffering damages for victims injured while committing or fleeing from a felony.

California Penal Code Part 1, Title 8, Chapter 2 [203]

A victim does not need to prove pain to prove “torture” happened under this code.

Except for medical malpractice cases, California does not cap non-economic damages. Non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are capped at $250,000.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in California

A plaintiff must prove their mental or physical distress to claim pain and suffering damages. Although non-economic damages are subjective, objective evidence is essential to prove them. Some approaches to help the court determine damages:

  • Test results (e.g., X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans)
  • Doctor or therapist notes
  • Medical records and bills demonstrating treatment extent
  • Before-and-after pictures or videos showcasing diminished activity levels or quality of life
  • Photos of property damage and physical injuries
  • Testimony from friends, co-workers, family members, witnesses
  • Expert testimony related to suffering, brain injuries, or lost earning capacity

When direct evidence linking pain and suffering is unavailable, a personal injury attorney may demonstrate indirect cause from the existing evidence to support the claim.

Pain and Suffering Multiplier Method

In California, the pain and suffering multiplier approach determines non-economic damages by adding up economic damages (e.g., medical and car expenses) and multiplying by a number (usually one to five) based on injury severity. The figure indicates damage compensation.

Attorneys may also employ the “per diem” method, which estimates the victim’s daily income minus their pain and suffering. This computation frequently uses the victim’s pre-accident daily earnings.

What Is The Time Limit to Bring Personal Injury Cases and Exceptions in Los Angeles

Timing is crucial when filing a personal injury claim. Understanding statutes of limitations can affect an individual’s right to seek injury compensation. These restrictions vary by state, injury kind, and case details. Los Angeles personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the injury.

Understanding the Importance of Time Limit

California’s personal injury statute of limitations is two years, however, there are exceptions. Certain situations could extend or delay the two-year limit.

Recognizing Exceptions

  1. Minors: If the injury victim is a minor, the statute is usually put on hold until the minor is 18.
  2. Absent Defendants: The law allows for an extension in cases where the defendant was not within the state during the limitation period.
  3. Medical Malpractice: Here, the ruling is slightly different. The limitation extends to three years from the injury date or one year from the date the patient discovered the injury.
  4. Government or Public Entities: For car accidents involving drivers representing a government or public entity, claims must typically be filed within six months of the accident. Furthermore, a lawsuit must be filed within six additional months if the initial claim gets denied.

Statutes of Limitations and The Discovery Rule Exception

The statute of limitations protects critical evidence, ensures justice, and prevents unexpected lawsuits. The “Discovery Rule Exception,” which extends the limitation for injuries that were not immediately obvious or undiscovered for a long time, is crucial.

The statute tolled until the victim discovered or should have reasonably discovered their injuries under the discovery criterion. This provision allows people to sue even if they discover their harm later.

Seeking Legal Help for Pain and Suffering Personal Injury

It can be difficult to navigate ‘pain and suffering’ personal injury claims. We at Haffner Law think you shouldn’t have to carry this burden alone. We strongly recommend seeking legal assistance for these complex issues.

Haffner Law’s skilled personal injury attorneys work to guarantee you receive fair compensation for your suffering and losses. Our attorneys comprehend damages after years of working on many cases.

Aside from personal injury cases, our practice areas are broad and encompass areas like BAD FAITH INSURANCE, Property Damage, Bad Faith Claims, and Disability Claims. We know every circumstance is different, therefore we provide customized and strategic support. Our experience allows us to provide legal aid.

Contact us today for a free case review. See how Haffner Law provides outstanding support and focus. We will defend your rights.

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