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Proving “Pain and Suffering” in a Personal Injury Case

Physical pain and recovery are not the only things victims of personal injury cases have to contend with but also mental pain and suffering. One could even argue that the latter is more difficult to overcome than a battery of treatments, surgery, and therapy.

If your injury is the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful doing, you have a right to demand compensation for the cost of your hospitalization, ER treatment, and other medical procedures. You can also file claims for mental pain and suffering.

Types of Compensatory Damages in California

Two types of compensatory damages that are acknowledged by California courts:

  • Economic Damages – These refer to damages that are easy to calculate, like ER and hospitalization fees and the costs of medicines, surgery, and other necessary treatments. This is why the legal community also refers to economic damages as “physical pain and suffering.” Claims for these damages can also cover lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and medical costs the victim will have to spend for in the future.

Economic damages are based on cold facts and data (e.g., hospital records and police reports), so they are easier to present and prove in court.

  • Non-Economic Damages – These refer to pain and suffering that are not easily measurable and difficult to back up with calculable data, but exist because of the respondent’s negligence or wrongdoing. Examples of these are mental and emotional distress, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and wrongful death.

Claimants must hire experienced attorneys for wrongful death lawsuits and claims on non-economic damages. These cases are harder to prove in the courts of Long Beach, Los Angeles, or anywhere else in California, thanks to their subjective nature.

Acceptable Proof of Pain and Suffering

Whether a claim gets settled outside of court or ends up being tried, all parties involved will look for evidence of pain and suffering before calculating damages. The following can hold water in court or the mediation room:

For physical pain and suffering:

  • Police records
  • Physician’s reports
  • Photographic or video evidence of the incident

For mental/emotional pain and suffering:

  • Proof of treatment by a mental health professional
  • Personal journals of the claimant
  • Documentation and sworn statements from the claimant’s family and friends

As a claimant or plaintiff, you must have sufficient documentation and irrefutable proof so that insurers and defendants cannot deny or reduce your claims.

Calculation of Damages

Extensive documentation from licensed physicians and other credible sources also serve another purpose: they inform jurors of the severity of the injuries, whether physical or mental.

If you’re filing claims for non-economic damages, you must establish the truth about your pain and suffering. Insurers and jurors calculate the damages using a multiplier, which in turn is based on the severity of the injury. The more severe the suffering, the higher the multiplier and compensation you can receive.

There is no definitive rule for determining multipliers or calculating damages, but insurers and jurors are expected to be reasonable and fair to the claimant’s pain and suffering. To improve your chances of getting a satisfactory settlement, hire a personal injury lawyer from Haffner Law. We will champion your rights and fight to get the highest possible settlement on your behalf.

Contact us and schedule your free consultation today.

(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)

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