Do you always get pain and suffering from a car accident?

Do you always get pain and suffering from a car accident?

When it comes to a car accident settlement, a significant amount of the compensation is typically based on what is known as “pain and suffering”. Do you always get pain and suffering from a car accident? Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will tell you that while it is commonly awarded in California, there are some cases where it is not.  

Here are some guidelines that will explain when pain and suffering is usually available. Each case is unique so speak with a personal injury attorney to determine what factors can impact your case. 

Damages recoverable in a California car accident 

Under CA law, car accident victims have the right to request the compensation needed to put them in the same position they would have been in if it were not for the injury. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easy to understand and calculate – they include the losses that come with a clear monetary value, like medical costs, lost income, and the cost of additional care needed. 

Non-economic damages are a little less clear to define, though the California Civil Code attempts to at §1431.2(b)(2). Under that code provision, non-economic damages are the “subjective, non-monetary losses” that the victim has suffered. Pain and suffering is probably the most widely-recognized of these. Other kinds of non-economic damages can include mental suffering, loss of consortium, humiliation, reputation injuries, and inconvenience. 

When pain and suffering is not available 

It may go without saying, but one situation where pain and suffering is unavailable is where there were no bodily injuries. Since the purpose of personal injury compensation is to replace what was lost, in cases where there is only damage to the vehicles, there is no room to request compensation for pain and suffering. However, some physical injuries may go undetected for an amount of time so if you are involved in an accident, it is a good idea to visit a doctor to be sure you are fine. 

California law, at California Civil Code § 3333.4, punishes drivers in certain cases by making them ineligible to recover non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. The statute applies when the injured driver (1) does not carry car insurance or otherwise comply with the financial responsibility laws; or (2) is convicted of a DUI. 

The underlying intent of § 3333.4 is to prevent those who are not complying with the law from benefiting from others who are. However, there are situations that can prevent the application of the statute, allowing the injured party to recover economic damages like pain and suffering. These can include when someone else owned the vehicle, when the injury was not caused by operation of the vehicle but instead by something like a product defect, or when the claimant is not the person who was operating the vehicle. Be sure to speak with a car accident lawyer if you have suffered injuries in an accident as they can help sort through the facts to determine whether the statute applies. 

How pain and suffering is calculated in California 

There are two common ways to calculate pain and suffering. The first, the multiplier method, is widely understood to be used by the insurance industry. The second, the daily rate, is often used in trials. 

In the multiplier method, the first step is to add up the amount of the economic damages (discussed above). The next step is to multiply that number by an amount known as a multiplier. The multiplier generally ranges from 1.5 to 5 and depends on factors such as the locale, severity and type of injury, and credibility of the claimant. For example, eye injuries are widely understood to be more impactful than some other types of injuries so those can lead to a higher multiplier. 

The “per diem” or daily rate method is based on an assignment of value to each day of suffering the injury victim is expected suffer. The value is then multiplied by the length that the suffering is expected to continue. This method is not used as often when the injury causes permanent disability.  

Speak with a car accident lawyer 

Once you enter a settlement agreement or win a jury award for a car accident, there is no going back to modify the compensation. It is important to speak with one of the expert Los Angeles personal injury lawyers from Ellis Law as soon as possible to ensure your claim includes all compensation available.  

When you work with one of our Los Angeles car accident attorneys from Ellis Injury Law, we keep your needs at the forefront and fight for full compensation. Call today for a free, confidential consultation in our Los Angeles office.