Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering in California?woman in pain holding glasses

As the leading Orange County personal injury attorney team, we’ve helped countless accident victims pursue the compensation they need and deserve to recover. If you’ve been injured by someone’s negligence, we may be able to help. Contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

If you’ve ever been the victim of a serious accident, you understand that losses come in a variety of forms. You may be faced with a totaled car or medical bills for accident-related treatment; you may miss out on work wages while you’re recovering in the hospital. 

Most reasonable people would agree that these clear and calculable losses warrant compensation. But what about losses that are not so easy to calculate, like pain and suffering? Don’t injury victims deserve compensation for their unseen hardships?

We think so. 

At Case Barnett Law, we specialize in helping injury victims pursue maximum compensation for all of their losses—economic and non-economic. Although we’re able to secure pain and suffering damages for many of our clients, it’s important to realize that you can’t sue for pain and suffering in every type of case. 

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re eligible to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, it’s a good idea to explore your legal options with a personal injury specialist as soon as possible. In the meantime, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about pain and suffering damages, their limitations and how much you stand to recover. 

Are you struggling to recover from an accident caused by someone else? Don’t suffer in silence while your legal options dwindle. Call us at (949) 409-0055 to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury specialists today.

What Does Pain and Suffering Mean?

Pain and suffering” has a specific meaning in the legal world. In broadest terms, it refers to physical discomfort or emotional distress, but it can include any type of mental and physical trauma that results from a personal injury. 

Pain and Suffering Damages

In personal injury lawsuits, pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage for which plaintiffs may be able to receive compensation in the form of a settlement. Whereas economic damages are calculable losses with a clear monetary value, non-economic damages are those that don’t have an inherent financial value. 

Here are five key elements that anyone interested in suing for pain and suffering needs to remember: 

  1. Pain and suffering encompasses all types of mental and physical trauma, from anger and grief to disfigurement and reputation damage. 
  2. There isn’t a fixed standard when it comes to calculating pain and suffering awards.
  3. Pain and suffering damages are typically estimated by a multiplier method.
  4. In most cases, pain and suffering damages that are awarded for physical injury and illness are not taxable, but damages awarded for emotional pain may be. 
  5. Some types of personal injury cases impose limits on recoverable pain and suffering damages. 

In California, personal injury victims can receive pain and suffering damages for a variety of claims, including car accident, slip-and-fall, defective product and medical malpractice claims. As of January 1, 2022, pain and suffering damages may also be awarded in survival actions involving wrongful death

Types of Pain and Suffering

In California, pain and suffering encompasses more than most people realize. Numerous injuries and types of harm fall under the category of pain and suffering, including:

  1. Persistent rage
  2. Anxiety
  3. Apprehension
  4. Reputational damage
  5. Depression
  6. Disfigurement
  7. Embarrassment
  8. Terror
  9. Humiliation
  10. Grief
  11. Physical Pain or Impairment
  12. Sexual Dysfunction and more

Pain and suffering can also mean deprivement of certain things you’re no longer able to enjoy because of your accidents. These losses can include loss of enjoyment of life, quality of life, and companionship. However, in order to receive compensation for any of these damages, you’ll need to prove they arose (or disappeared) as a direct result of the accident. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

Judges and juries don’t apply a fixed standard when calculating pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. Rather, they take many different things into account, including the following considerations: 

  • The severity of your injuries or degree of harm you sustained
  • How your injuries compare to those of others in your situation
  • The extent to which your injuries affect your daily life
  • Your profession or the type of job you worked prior to the accident
  • How much medical care and treatment your recovery require
  • The ultimate outcome of your injuries

In order to prove the existence of your pain and suffering, your Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer will work to gather and present various types of evidence. This evidence may include medical records and bills, notes from doctors and mental health professionals, x-rays, testimony from friends, co-workers, family members, and others, electronic communications, expert testimonies, and more. 

Limitations on Pain and Suffering Damages

Not all injury victims are eligible to receive pain and suffering damages. 

California courts don’t award compensation for pain and suffering in workers’ compensation cases or in certain types of car accident lawsuits. Specifically, injured parties can’t collect pain and suffering damages if they were convicted of a DUI related to the accident or if they owned or were driving an uninsured or underinsured car that was involved. 

Additionally, California caps the amount of compensation that injury victims can receive for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. As with most personal injury cases, an injury victim loses their right to pursue pain and suffering damages if they fail to file within two years of when the accident occurred. 

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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