In personal injury cases in California, the term “damages” refers to the amount of money awarded to you for both economic and non-economic losses due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party. Economic damages are straightforward and cover your actual financial losses. The most common types of economic damages awarded in a personal injury case include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future loss of wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
Determining the amount of money to award a personal injury victim for non-economic damages is much more challenging. This is especially true for the category of pain and suffering. One reason for this is that no accepted definition of what constitutes pain and suffering currently exists. That leaves it open to the interpretation of the judge and jury as they evaluate the plaintiff’s statements regarding how the actions of the responsible party have caused ongoing pain and suffering in his or her life.
What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?
It’s important to understand that this is a legal term and may not mean the same thing in a personal injury case that you would expect it to mean in everyday life. For the purpose of a lawsuit, pain and suffering refers to physical pain, emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and possibly more.
When you break your leg in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, your physical pain is obvious to others. If the accident leaves you permanently disabled, you might also struggle with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, nightmares, insomnia, and altered relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Others might not know you’re struggling with these things, but they occur nonetheless. This is a classic case of why courts award pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case in the first place.
Tort Liability System in California
California enforces a tort liability system in personal injury cases, which means it’s up to the jury to decide how much to award a plaintiff for both economic and non-economic damages. The state does not impose restrictions on who can and cannot sue for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. As the person requesting damages, you must convince the jury of the monetary value of the pain and suffering you have experienced due to the actions of the other party. Because this is highly subjective, it’s in your best interest to have an experienced personal injury attorney from Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, justify the financial compensation you’re requesting in this category.
Factors Juries Consider When Awarding Pain and Suffering Damages
Since juries have no formula to follow when considering this type of non-economic damage, they typically look at the following:
- What you must give up in your life due to consequences of the accident
- The severity of your injuries and whether you suffer permanent physical impairment
- Things you can no longer physically accomplish due to the injuries or impairment
- Relationship between medical costs and your current lifestyle
- Your age at the time of the accident: Juries tend to favor younger people when it comes to awarding pain and suffering because they must live with the outcome of the accident longer than older people do.
One drawback of operating on a tort liability system is that the amount of a personal injury awarded often depends on how much the jury likes the injured person and how much sympathy they have for him or her. Since this remains a reality, our personal injury attorneys work to present you to the jury in the best light possible.
Request Your Free Case Evaluation Today
Garmo & Garmo serves people in El Cajon, California and the surrounding communities. We encourage you to contact us at 619-441-2500 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation. The attorney you meet with will let you know if you’re likely to settle your personal injury lawsuit successfully and whether you might receive damages for pain and suffering. Because we serve a diverse population, our attorneys speak several different languages.