How are Pain and Suffering Damages determined in a Lawsuit?
One of the more nebulous aspects of a case is in assessing the damages, especially when it comes to pain and suffering damages. This part of the case may seem very opaque and confusing, but hopefully with this article there will be some clearing up of the confusion surrounding just exactly how pain and suffering damages are awarded in California.
What are exactly pain and suffering damages?
Pain and suffering damages are the “suffering/loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress” or other similar damages. What this means is that pain and suffering damages can extend to a wide class of similar objects, from the physical pain suffered due to an event, to the psychological pain and grief due to its outcome or the event itself. These kinds of damages are necessarily more difficult to assess and to quantify. Therefore it is important to take care when presenting these damages so you can be awarded damages fairly.
There is no fixed standard for deciding the amount of these kinds of non-economic damages. The judge must rely on their common sense and on the evidence provided. This is why it is important to take notes, pictures, or video of any pain and suffering that occurs. This can be used in court as evidence of the pain and suffering claimed. Be sure to document everything since the accident, from difficulty doing simple daily tasks, or the impact your injury has on your working life, to how your mental health is doing and what kind of changes may be present there.
Doing so will give you a bevy of evidence that your lawyer can use to prove that you are suffering great pain and are entitled to pain and suffering damages. Because this part of the law is more open to interpretation than the economic damages one might suffer (like missed wages, or services due to the death of the deceased), it is doubly important to keep good records based on your experience so that you can translate your subjective experience of the pain into a more “hard” reality that the judge can then use as a basis to award damages.
Good Practices to Document Pain and Suffering
Here are some good practices that you can adopt to document your pain and suffering.
- Get any medical records or doctor’s notes about your injury and your treatment. This is invaluable to get an expert’s opinion about what kind of suffering and pain you have experienced, and putting that into terms that the court can then quantify and have a good sense of what exactly it was you experienced or are experiencing.
- Document how your pain and suffering has impacted your daily life. Are you unable to do basic work functions due to your injury? Has your life been negatively impacted when doing enjoyable activities or other life-affirming activities? Do you require more assistance and so have incurred a new expense due to your injury? Document every way in which your life has been impacted due to the pain and suffering you have incurred from the injury. This can even extend to mental health, so document any changes in thinking, or need to see a therapist or psychologist.
- Have a number of witness testimonies available if needed that can demonstrate that others see how you are suffering and can attest to the pain you are in. These can be from loved ones, coworkers or friends. Their perspective can help the judge get a wider perspective on what kind of impact your suffering has had on your life.
Do you have further questions about what sorts of damages you could expect to be awarded? If you are unsure of how to proceed with your case of in which pain and suffering is involved, or want a team with a history of success in your corner as you pursue justice, you need to speak to an attorney. If you live in Glendale, CA and want to arrange a consultation with us to discuss your case, give us at The Shirvanian Law Firm a call at (818) 835-5396 and we will be happy to arrange an appointment for you to speak to one of our expert personal injury attorneys. You deserve to have your case handled by a team of professionals. Trust us to help you.