When you present a personal injury claim in California, your potential settlement will likely include compensation for pain and suffering. Understandably, prospective clients want to know how much they can receive for their pain and suffering damages. Victims may use an online pain and suffering calculator to try and calculate a figure. But you should not rely on these online calculators to determine an accurate value for your case. There are far too many variables that can impact your claim value, and those calculators are not nuanced enough to take these significant variables into consideration. To learn more about what your case could be worth, contact the California personal injury lawyers at The Paris Firm today.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Pain and suffering compensation usually compensates a victim for their physical pain and suffering as well as mental anguish. Pain and suffering damages are categorized as “general damages” or non-economic damages because there is no associated tangible financial loss. In other words, there is no invoice that details the financial value of your mental anguish, etc. That is why it’s not easy to calculate a dollar amount for pain and suffering in a personal injury matter. An online pain and suffering calculator cannot consider subjective elements when determining settlement value. You need a legal professional for that.
Factors that Impact Your Pain and Suffering Damages
Before looking at pain and suffering settlement examples, you need to understand what factors impact your pain and suffering value the most. Some of these factors include:
- The type of accident;
- The type and severity of your injuries;
- Your total amount of damages;
- The impact your injury has on your relationships with family and loved ones;
- How the injury impacts your ability to work;
- The types of medical treatment your injuries require; and
- How long will it take for you to heal or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI)?
There is no specific method or standard that you must use in California. You need to present as much evidence as possible to support your demand for pain and suffering damages. Other factors can impact your overall settlement, not just your pain and suffering. For example, liability plays a massive role in your overall settlement. California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that you can still collect compensation even if you are primarily at fault, but your award is cut by the percentage of fault you carry. For instance, if you were 30% at fault, you would receive 70% of your overall damages.
Another factor that can impact your settlement is the amount of insurance coverage available. It won’t matter if you have $200,000 in pain and suffering damages if the defendant only has $50,000 in available coverage. To collect anything over the limits, you must sue the defendant directly. However, if the defendant has no assets that will pay your damages, you might be wasting your time. Your attorney can investigate potential sources of compensation and explain your best options.
Is There a Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages in California?
Some states have a cap on non-economic damages, which means pain and suffering compensation would be limited to a certain amount. However, California does not have a cap on compensatory damages.
Examples of Pain and Suffering Settlements
When calculating pain and suffering damages, it helps to understand the methods that insurance companies use when extending an offer. The most common pain and suffering calculator methods include the multiplier and the per diem method.
To use the multiplier method, you add all the economic damages together, such as medical expenses, lost wages, etc., and multiply that number by a certain number. This number is called a “multiplier” and is usually a factor between one and five. Minor injuries and damages would likely warrant the use of a multiplier of one or possibly one and a half. Three is likely used for average but substantial injury levels, while five is reserved for someone with severe or permanent injuries.
Consider a truck accident victim who suffered spinal cord damage and is paralyzed from the waist down. Suppose they have $200,000 in economic damages, will never return to work again, and need an around-the-clock caretaker. The total pain and suffering could be one million dollars (200,000 x 5).
Now consider someone involved in a minor car accident with some soft tissue neck and back pain. This accident victim had $5,000 in damages and only took four weeks of treatment to recover. The insurance adjuster would likely use a multiplier of one in this case, so their pain and suffering damages might only be $5,000. The adjuster would add the $5,000 in economic damages to the $5,000 in pain and suffering, and this victim would get a total of $10,000.
The Per Diem Method of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Another option is the per diem method. With the per diem method, an adjuster assigns a dollar amount to each day the victim experiences pain and suffering because of the accident. Adjusters often use the victim’s daily earnings before the accident. Consider someone with moderate injuries from a car accident for whom it took 60 days of soft tissue treatment and rehab to heal. Before the accident, this victim earned $200 per day. Using the per diem pain and suffering calculator, a claims adjuster might determine pain and suffering damages are $12,000.
Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer
If you sustained injuries due to another party’s negligence, you have the right to pursue a claim for compensation in California. That compensation can include money for your pain and suffering. Resolving a personal injury claim can be complicated. Don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to handle your claim independently. To maximize your pain and suffering award, you need a skilled California personal injury lawyer who will build the strongest case possible.
The legal team at The Paris Firm has nearly 30 years of experience helping injured victims recover maximum compensation. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with us. Rather than try to figure out compensation by using a generic online pain and suffering calculator, let us review your case. We will tell you what you can realistically demand in pain and suffering damages and how best to proceed.