In personal injury cases, pain and suffering is the term used to define the emotional and physical pain caused by injuries a victim sustains in an accident. Pain and suffering damages assigns a monetary value to non-economic damages such as the physical pain, emotional distress, and the loss of the enjoyment of life a victim experiences as a result of an accident.
California does not have a formula for calculating pain and suffering damages. While economic damages are easier to quantify, the pain and suffering an auto accident victim endures is often greater than his or her economic losses, and just as deserving of maximum compensation.
Determining the Amount of Pain and Suffering Damages in California
To calculate pain and suffering, some states use what is referred to as a multiplier. They take the total of all out-of-pocket expenses incurred by a car accident victim -medical bills, property damage and lost wages – and multiply it by some factor to arrive at the pain and suffering figure. That is not how pain and suffering is determined in California.
In California it is in the jury’s sole discretion to determine the “reasonable” amount a victim should receive for his or her physical and emotional pain and suffering. It therefore becomes the responsibility of a skilled California personal injury attorney to help juries arrive at the right “reasonable” value for his client.
Sometimes the personal injury attorney will ask the jury to use the “per diem,” or per day method. Under this approach the jury would award the auto accident victim a certain amount of money for each day he or she had to live with the pain and suffering caused by the car accident. To pass the reasonableness test, the per day amount suggested by the attorney is usually based upon the victim’s daily earnings.
More commonly, through the presentation of testimony and evidence, the personal injury attorney will carefully lay out to the jury exactly how his client has suffered and asks the jurors to contemplate how much they would reasonably pay to avoid the victim’s fate. In addition to what the auto accident victim has already suffered, the attorney will walk the jury through what suffering might still lie ahead for his client – surgeries, paralysis, scarring, disfigurement, brain damage and other catastrophic conditions.
Determining the “reasonable” amount for pain and suffering can be very difficult for a jury, so it is important for auto accident victims to hire a skilled personal injury attorney who knows how to properly present their case. A personal injury lawyer with experience in handling automobile accidents cases knows the best way to develop, prepare and present all relevant evidence – documents, photos, expert and witness testimony – so the jury fully appreciates the pain and suffering his client is living through.
Contact an Experienced Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney to Assist You with Your Claim
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Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation. You are under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover damages for your injuries. I offer bilingual services as part of my comprehensive approach to legal representation and I am available 24/7 to talk to you about your case.
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