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How Much Can You Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident in California?

California has no limit on how much claimants may get for pain and suffering. The amount you may receive, however, depends on the severity of your suffering, the calculation method used, and how much the judge or jury is convinced of your condition.

Let’s take a look at California’s pain and suffering computation, and answer some common questions about claiming for pain and suffering. For legal advice specific to your case, consult for free with our experienced car accident attorneys.

Calculating How Much You May Get for Pain and Suffering in California

When claiming for pain and suffering, you and your lawyer will demand a specific amount, and it will be up to the judge or jury to determine the amount you’ll actually receive. Since mental or emotional agony does not have a dollar value, there’s no standard way to calculate this amount, but lawyers, judges, and insurance adjusters typically use either of these two methods:

Multiplier method

In this most-used computation technique, you’ll sum up all your economic damages (monetary losses like medical bills and missed wages from the accident), then multiply that by a number from 1 to 5. The multiplier represents the severity of your pain and suffering, with one being the mildest and 5 the most severe.

For example, let’s say the car crash caused you a total of $5,000 in economic damages. After conferring with you and your doctor, your lawyer determines that your pain and suffering gets a multiplier of 3. Multiplying $5,000 by 3 gives you an initial pain and suffering amount of $15,000.

Per diem method

This calculation assigns a dollar amount for each day it takes you to recover from pain and suffering. The daily rate is usually your average daily earnings prior to your accident. For instance, if you earned $300 daily before getting injured, and it takes you 14 days to recover, your pain and suffering compensation would be $300 x 14, or $4,200.

Frequently Asked Questions about California Accident Pain and Suffering

What counts as pain and suffering in California?

The term “pain and suffering” broadly refers to the psychological or emotional distress you experience after an accident. This includes:

  • Physical sensation of pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Emotional agony
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Diminished enjoyment of life
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Suffering from disfigurement or scarring, if any.

How do I prove my pain and suffering?

Since pain and suffering are non-economic (intangible or hard to define) losses, you’ll need to present sufficient evidence to prove that you’re experiencing these. Evidence may include:

  • Medical records establishing the extent of your physical injury and the ordeal you suffered
  • Medical records showing any kind of pre-condition that may have been aggravated by the accident, increasing your pain and suffering
  • Statements from experts such as psychologists and other mental health professionals
  • Testimony from your therapist or counselor
  • Photos and videos showing your activity before and after the accident
  • Testimonies from your family and friends
  • Any journal you keep about your experience (more helpful if you mention symptoms such as irrational fears, inability to sleep, frequent crying or moodiness, and the like)
  • Your own statement.

Work with your attorney to gather all useful evidence and build a compelling case to present.

What is the limit or cap for pain and suffering in California?

There is no damage cap for pain and suffering from vehicle accidents in California. The state, however, puts a $250,000 limit for pain and suffering claims from medical malpractice.

Can I be compensated for pain and suffering without physical injury?

Yes, it’s possible in California to claim pain and suffering compensation even if you weren’t physically injured in the accident. This could still fall under Personal Injury, specifically as an Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claim. However, you’ll need strong evidence and highly persuasive arguments to convince the court that you deserve compensation. Speak to your attorney about steps you can take for a successful pain and suffering claim.

Can I get pain and suffering when a loved one has died?

Yes, California allows you to claim for the pain and suffering your close loved one endured before they died of their injuries. Under California Civil Code section 377.20, a personal injury claim does not ‘die’ with the deceased but ‘survives’ and can be pursued by a representative. Our wrongful death attorney can advise you on your rights and next steps in pursuing this compensation.

Contact a San Diego County Pain and Suffering Attorney

Numerous accident victims in California have maximized their compensation through the skilled legal services of Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers. With more than 20 years of experience, our firm has won over $100 million on behalf of our clients, and much of that is through pain and suffering claims. Consult with us for free about your pain and suffering after an accident. Call us today at (619) 550-1355.


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