California Pain and Suffering Caps Can Drastically Affect Your Personal Injury Case
It’s tough to say just how much your pain is worth, but that’s exactly what your lawyer will try to do in your personal injury case.
Let’s go over a few basic points about pain and suffering damages in California—and why they can have a huge impact on your case’s final payout.
Is there a cap on pain and suffering damages in California?
Pain and suffering is part of a group known as “non-economic” damages. Non-economic damages are awarded to plaintiffs not to pay off some set dollar amount—such as for medical bills or lost wages—but to help ease some difficulty associated with their injury.
As such, pain and suffering damages generally don’t have a maximum cap in California, although there are a few exceptions.
Does California have caps for pain and suffering from medical malpractice or professional negligence?
In California, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages from medical malpractice—except in cases where the doctor or healthcare professional acted recklessly or intended to harm you.
Additionally, this $250,000 cap does not affect any amounts you are seeking for medical bills, lost wages, etc.
What about pain and suffering caps for California drivers?
There are three instances where drivers may face limitations in attempting to seek damages from an accident:
Drivers convicted of DUI may not seek non-economic damages
Uninsured vehicle owners cannot recover non-economic damages unless their injury was caused by a drunk driver
Uninsured drivers may not recover non-economic damages in any situation
Are there damage caps for convicted felons?
Yes. California state law prohibits anyone who was fleeing or committing a felony from recovering damages from an accident or injury sustained in the process. Of course, an actual conviction is necessary to bar you from recovering damages.
How do I prove pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is highly subjective, but at the same time, recovering damages for pain and suffering is usually established using objective evidence like:
X-rays and medical records
Photographs of physical injuries and property damage
Doctor and therapist notes
Before and after videos showing your activity level
Testimonies from friends, family and co-workers
Evidence of lost time from work
How does a California jury calculate pain and suffering?
There’s no set standard for calculating non-economic damages. After making your case that you’ve suffered harm and/or you’re reasonably certain to suffer harm in the future because of your accident, the jury will use its best judgment to decide on an amount using common sense and the evidence we’ve provided.
Can I only recover pain and suffering damages with a physical injury?
No, but plaintiffs are more likely to recover pain and suffering damages when there is a physical injury in addition to:
High medical bills
X-rays or lab tests that verify the injury
Difficult, long recovery time
Permanent disfigurement or loss of function
How do insurance companies calculate pain and suffering?
There’s no “industry standard” for insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering damages, and settlement offers will vary from company to company.
One common method for calculating settlement offers is to multiply your economic damages by a number between 1 and 5, with higher numbers going to more severe injuries. So if you received $30,000 for medical bills and suffered what the insurance company deems a mild injury, they might multiply your economic damages by 2 and offer $60,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Again, these are estimates and hypothetical situations—every injury and case is unique.
How do I recover as much pain and suffering damages as possible?
Working with the right personal injury lawyer in Inland Empire California is key to building a solid case and presenting the right evidence to maximize payouts for your injury.
If you’re ready to start securing your future and putting your injury firmly in the rearview mirror, give us a call or fill out our form below, and let’s get started ASAP.