A serious accident can have many negative effects on the victim. In addition to suffering huge financial losses from medical bills, missed time at work, and potentially, a reduced ability to earn income, accident victims also endure terrible pain and suffering from their injuries, sometimes continuing for many years after the accident takes place. Fortunately, California’s laws generally permit injury victims to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, along with their medical bills and other financial losses. Our Ventura personal injury lawyers explain some key information about pain and suffering damages in California, including when you can get compensated for pain and suffering, and how the value of pain and suffering is calculated.
When Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering in California?
When a person is injured in a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or another type of accident, he or she may be entitled to financial compensation or “damages” from the party whose recklessness or negligence was responsible for causing the accident and resulting injuries to occur. However, there are several different types of damages in a personal injury case.
Economic damages, for instance, are meant to compensate the victim for his or her expenses and financial losses, such as lost earnings and hospital bills. Compensation for pain and suffering – which, along with disfigurement, disability, and loss of companionship, is an example of non-economic damages – tries to compensate the victim for the physical and psychological harm the victim experiences as a result of the injury or injuries.
Generally speaking, victims of negligence may sue for pain and suffering in any type of personal injury lawsuit in California, with the notable exception of workplace accidents, in which accident victims typically cannot sue their employers because they are already covered by workers’ compensation. Depending on the circumstances, a plaintiff in California could potentially be awarded pain and suffering compensation in a lawsuit arising from, for example, a Ventura truck accident, a dog bite injury, or a birth injury.
How is the Worth of Pain and Suffering Compensation Calculated?
While medical bills and other financial losses can be truly devastating, the pain and suffering the victim endures is often the worst part of an accident’s aftermath. Yet while economic damages can be calculated in a relatively straightforward manner, pain and suffering is inherently impossible to place an objective value on. How can anyone find the “right” or “correct” value of the depression, fear, anxiety, discomfort, and physical limitations resulting from an accident? In short, how is the value of pain and suffering determined in a personal injury lawsuit?
While the pain and suffering a person experiences can never be objectively weighed, courts strive to find an appropriate figure by considering a multitude of factors – for example, the severity of the injury. Some injuries heal so well it is as if they never occurred; but others continue to cause pain and limitation for the rest of the victim’s life. The more painful and debilitating the injury, the higher the value it may be assigned.
Similarly, the appearance of the injury will also be taken into consideration. An injury that creates a permanent scar or permanent disfigurement may lead to a higher award, particularly if the scar or disfigurement is on a highly visible or functionally critical area, such as the victim’s face or hands.
The courts will also consider the psychological consequences of the accident when determining compensation for pain and suffering. For example, did the victim develop depression, anxiety, or PTSD? Did he or she have to undergo therapy for a prolonged period of time?
While these and other factors play a role in determining an award, courts are bound by certain restrictions. California, like many states, places caps or limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. In California, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $250,000 under state law.
Ventura Personal Injury Lawyers Handling Car Accident Claims
The Ventura personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC have been representing injured Californians for more than 22 years, and understand how debilitating the physical injuries and emotional scars of an accident can truly be. Unlike some law firms which rush to settle every claim, we work aggressively and strategically with the goal of recovering the greatest amount of compensation possible for each client we represent. Our mission is to ensure that California accident victims obtain the financial resources and closure they need to begin the healing process.
Our personal injury lawyers are highly experienced in handling a wide array of cases in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Our skilled legal team includes Ventura car accident lawyers, medical malpractice attorneys, product liability lawyers, and more.
To discuss your personal injury matter in a free and confidential legal consultation, contact The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 right away. We’re here to help in any way we can.