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Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases in California

Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases in California

The US justice system recognizes different types of damages associated with personal injuries. In California, the victim can see compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Determining compensation for economic damages is easy, and it’s also easy to prove these damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Jurors are easy to convince when it comes to seeking compensation for hard and fast numbers. This is because damages, such as lost wages and medical bills, are easy to calculate. In contrast, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are not that easy to prove.

Have you ever suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of another?  If yes, you should understand the process of determining compensation for non-economic injuries.

In this blog post, you will learn about pain and suffering in the legal context. You will also learn how legal experts assess compensation for pain and suffering.

What Is Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases?

Pain and suffering are a type of damage for which a victim can seek compensation. Also called general damages, an individual responsible for the accident makes the payment. Calculating the compensation amount for general damages is difficult.

Pain and suffering are different elements in the eyes of the law. Pain refers to physical ailments due to the injury. Suffering, in contrast, refers to mental anguish. Both of them are compensable under California personal injury law.

An example will let you know the difference between pain and suffering in the legal context. Suppose that a person suffers from a dog bite. The pain is due to the sensation of the bite. In contrast, suffering is fear, anxiety, and depression due to the injury.

A personal injury lawyer will assess various factors to determine the compensation amount. Some of the factors that an attorney will consider include:

  • Mental anguish due to the injury
  • Physical pain
  • Discomfort due to physical disability
  • Loss of companionship due to the injury
  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression

We can group the above non-economic damages into two categorize. These include physical pain and discomfort due to injuries. The lawyer will assess both the present and future instances of physical pain.

Moreover, the lawyer will assess mental suffering due to losses after an accident. Mental pain is a by-product of physical pain and financial losses. The mental pain and suffering include the following.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in life
  • Anger
  • Humiliation
  • Shock

In short, mental suffering can be any kind of negative emotion experienced by a victim. The mental suffering increases the pain that a victim has to endure the pain and trauma.

The formula for Determining Compensation for Pain and Suffering

No hard and fast rule is available for assessing compensation for pain and suffering. Personal injury attorneys use different methods to arrive at a good estimate.

Multiplier Method

The most common method for determining pain and suffering is the multiplier method. The method involves multiplying the economic damages of the victim with a multiplier. Most personal injury attorneys use a multiplier between one and five.

For example, suppose a victim incurs $10,000 in medical bills. The victim also has to hire a helper to do chores for $3,000 per month. Moreover, lost wages due to injury amounts to $18,000. This results in the total economic damage of $31,000. If an attorney uses a multiplier of 1.5, the compensation amount for pain and suffering is $46,500.

Per Diem Method

Many attorneys also use the per diem method to determine the compensation amount. Per diem is the Latin word for per day. Under this method, a fixed amount is set for every day a plaintiff remains injured. The attorney usually estimates the per day amount based on lost wages and expenses.

Let’s suppose that a victim remains injured for 180 days after an accident. Also, suppose the attorney has set $150 as the per diem amount. In this situation, the estimated compensation amount for pain and suffering is $27,000.

Remember that the insurance company may use a different method. The insurance representative may use a multiplier, per diem, or any other method. Many companies estimate compensation for pain and suffering from using personal computer software. The programs determine the compensation amount based on different factors. The programs may base the decision on the type and the extent of the injuries.

Insurance companies look at the medical treatment sought by a victim. For instance, a surgery signifies a more catastrophic injury than medications. Moreover, the doctor’s opinion is also obtained to get an opinion about pain and suffering.  The length of time of the treatment is also taken into account. For catastrophic injuries, a high compensation amount is set for pain and suffering.

Proving Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Lawsuit

Proving economic damages in the court is easy. The victim can show medical bills, payslip, and other documents to prove economic damages.

For non-economic damages, the plaintiff will have to provide verifiable proof. Expert testimonials generally help in proving pain and suffering. For instance, a medical expert can verify that the victim is telling the truth. The expert can convince the court by explaining the pain experienced by patients. The testimony of the expert will explain the full extent of pain experienced due to the injury.


Pain and suffering are often difficult to prove in court. Insurance companies and legal experts use different formulas for estimating pain and suffering. Compensation for non-economic damages is generally calculated using the per diem or multiplier method. Some use computer software to assess non-economic damages.

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligent action of another, you should contact Bernard & Bernard Attorneys.  You should contact us soon after an accident. Our personal injury attorneys will help tell you about pain and suffering damages in your case. Our experienced attorneys will help you meet legal requirements. You will also know what evidence to collect for proving pain and suffering. Our attorneys will help you get adequate compensation from the guilty party.



About The Author

LA Injury Attorneys

Shane Bernard is a prominent Los Angeles attorney. Mr. Bernard has a degree in philosophy from New York University and dual minors in both psychology and United States history.