Tag: lawsuit

Do You Need a Lawyer for Pain And Suffering Damages?

Woman lying in bed in pain with hand over her shoulder and neck.

Getting what you deserve in a lawsuit for pain and suffering isn’t always a straightforward process. An identical plaintiff might get significantly different results from different attorneys. A pro per plaintiff (someone who represents themselves) is almost sure to have a less satisfying and drastically different outcome.

Even though the goal is always the same, i.e., to make the plaintiff “whole” again after the defendant has caused them harm, there are many different ways to approach the issue. It’s incredibly complex when it comes to showing damages from pain and suffering.

When Are Pain and Suffering Damages Appropriate?

Economic damages are, for the most part, relatively easy to calculate. For example, if someone steals your car, the economic damage you’ve suffered is the value of the car, its contents, any income you lost as a result of not having the car, etc. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are appropriate for less tangible harm.

If someone lost their hand due to another person’s negligence, you could calculate their medical bills and their decreased ability to make a living. But of course, that doesn’t cover the full extent of their injuries. They would have suffered great physical pain, severe emotional distress, and perhaps long-term mental health effects (such as depression and anxiety). While no amount of money can erase these injuries, pain and suffering damages are meant to at least address them.

Should You Handle Pain and Suffering Damages on Your Own?

We strongly advise against representing yourself in any lawsuit where you might be entitled to pain and suffering damages. Such a case is likely to be complex, and you would be doing yourself a great disservice by trying to go it alone.

Imagine a situation where the defendant’s culpability is not in question. It’s just a question of how much money they will have to pay. You would have two options: settle the case or take it to court to prove damages.

Proving damages in court is no simple matter. You will have to call your witnesses, cross-examine the defense witnesses, possibly hire experts, and follow the complex rules of evidence. On top of that, the defendant is likely to fight hard because pain and suffering damages can be a lot of money. A pro per litigant is not going to be on equal footing.

This leaves you with the option to settle out of court. The defendant may be very willing to do this. But the amount they offer will be directly related to how much they wish to avoid a trial. If they know you don’t have an attorney, they will lowball you because you probably can’t beat them in court. Worse, because it’s difficult to know how much your case is worth, you may not even know that the offer is too low.

Experienced Plaintiff’s Attorneys in Southern California

If you’ve been injured and believe you may be entitled to pain and suffering damages, your first step should be to contact an attorney. Schedule a consultation with one of our litigation experts today.

Lawsuits: Pain and Suffering Damages in California

Pain and Suffering Damages

Imagine if someone intentionally burned down your house. You would be entitled to recover damages from the person who did it, of course, but how do you calculate the value of your losses? In a lawsuit, can you get damages for your personal pain and suffering?

It’s easy to determine the economic damages—the value of the house, the appliances inside, etc.—but that doesn’t cover the full extent of the harm you’ve suffered. In California, you could also likely recover monetary compensation for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Most damages in civil lawsuits are compensatory, meaning they are meant to compensate the plaintiff with money for the losses they’ve suffered (often phrased as “making the plaintiff whole again”) rather than punish the defendant for their bad behavior. Non-economic damages are no exception. They are “subjective, non-monetary losses” for which a jury or judge must determine a monetary value. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium (being kept from the benefits of a family relationship)
  • Injury to reputation
  • Humiliation

Using the burned house example above, you could make an excellent argument for non-economic damages for pain and suffering in a lawsuit. Even if you were not physically injured, losing your home and everything inside (including family photos, cherished keepsakes, etc.) likely caused you severe emotional distress, as well as considerable inconvenience.

As with other damages, a plaintiff must present evidence to demonstrate non-economic losses. Relevant evidence will vary depending on the situation, but it is anything that establishes the existence of the injuries and helps the judge or jury attach a specific monetary value. The evidence could include testimony from medical and mental health experts, family and friends, and you.

Limits on Non-Economic Damages

In California, there are some situations where non-economic damages are limited to a certain amount or prohibited altogether. For example, in medical malpractice cases, they are capped at $250,000, an amount that has remained the same since it was passed into law in 1975. In addition, in traffic accident cases, a plaintiff cannot recover non-economic damages at all if they were uninsured or driving under the influence at the time.

Another important limit is that multiple defendants are not jointly liable for non-economic damages. It means each defendant is only responsible for paying their portion depending on how much they were at fault. For example, if there are two defendants, one who is a millionaire and another who is penniless, and the millionaire is only 1% at fault, they only have to pay 1% of the non-economic damages. There are important exceptions to this rule, such as an employee-employer relationship between the defendants.

Personal Injury Experts in Southern California

Non-economic damages can form a large part of a plaintiff’s claim, but they are very complicated to litigate. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys can help you prove your case and maximize your recovery. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.