How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in California?

Personal Injury | April 26, 2021

Suffering an injury in an accident can cause more than just financial distress. A serious physical injury can also cause substantial pain and suffering. In California, the law allows you to seek financial compensation for all of your losses – including noneconomic losses such as physical pain and emotional suffering. How much this part of your claim may be worth depends on its unique elements.

What is Pain and Suffering?

The goal of a personal injury claim is to make a victim whole again; to restore the victim to the position he or she would have been in were it not for the accident. This includes paying the victim for intangible losses that impacted the victim’s life, even if they were not monetary in nature.

While a plaintiff can recover financial compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, he or she can also recover for noneconomic losses in California. This type of recovery award is called pain and suffering damages. Depending on the case, a pain and suffering award can significantly increase the overall value of a victim’s settlement or judgment award.

Another word for noneconomic losses is general damages. This is because it refers to the general pain and suffering that the average person would suffer from being in the plaintiff’s position. Economic losses, on the other hand, are referred to as specific damages. They reimburse a victim for the exact losses he or she incurred due to a preventable accident, usually using evidence such as medical bills and financial documents.

Damages That Fall Under Pain and Suffering

It is important to understand which past and future losses fall under the umbrella of pain and suffering damages if you are bringing a personal injury lawsuit in California. Otherwise, you may seek an amount that falls short of what you deserve for the extent of your injuries. In personal injury law, pain and suffering as a damage award can refer to many different types of personal losses, including:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Chronic pain
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of a bodily function
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Shock or grief
  • Humiliation
  • Inconvenience
  • Lost quality of life
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

You can seek financial compensation for pain and suffering in California during many different types of liability claims, including a car accident case, slip and fall lawsuit, wrongful death claim, and defective product claim. You cannot, however, seek pain and suffering damages in a workers’ compensation claim. There may also be a cap on how much you can receive in pain and suffering based on the type of case. For example, California has a damage cap on pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims of $250,000.

Calculating pain and suffering in California

The Multiplier Method

Calculating pain and suffering in California is difficult, as there is no hard and fast rule used for every case. Pain and suffering is a highly variable type of damage award that depends entirely on the victim’s unique case and how the injury has impacted his or her life. Although a jury does not have to use any calculation method at all if it does not wish to, one of the most common methods used to make calculations easier is the Multiplier Method.

The Multiplier Method is an equation that multiplies the plaintiff’s total amount of economic damages by a multiplier. The jury will choose the multiplier based on the severity of the injury, the recklessness of the defendant’s actions and other factors. For example, if the plaintiff was awarded $200,000 in economic damages and the jury chooses a multiplier of 4 for a severe injury, the pain and suffering damage award would be $800,000.

Injured? Contact an LA Personal Injury Attorney

Calculating pain and suffering, negotiating for maximum financial compensation, and navigating California’s related laws are made easier with help from a Los Angeles personal injury attorney. For more information about how much you may be able to recover in pain and suffering damages during a personal injury claim, consult with an attorney from The Ryan Law Group. We offer free initial consultations.

During the COVID-19 crisis, The Ryan Law Group is open for business and continues to be available to existing and new clients through virtual meetings and teleconferences. We can handle all of your legal needs without you leaving your house. Please, call (310) 321-4800 or contact us here to be connected to our attorneys who can get to work on your case.