You don’t have to be a lawyer to have heard of the concept of recovering compensation for “pain and suffering,” but many non-lawyers are justifiably confused by what exactly “pain and suffering” is in the legal context and when it is available. That said, we have all heard of news stories in which plaintiffs are awarded what seem like large financial sums for pain and suffering, thus determining whether such damages are available in a given case is (again, justifiably) one of the first questions asked by people considering bringing a personal injury claim.
What Is “Pain and Suffering”?
In a personal injury suit in California, a victim who can prove negligence (meaning a liable defendant acted unreasonably and injured you as a result in a manner that was foreseeable) can recover all losses from that defendant and other liable parties such as a defendant’s employer. These losses include not only the cost of medical bills and lost income but the emotional cost of having to deal with the injuries, which can persist for years, and this is called pain and suffering.
In a sense, when a jury quantifies a pain and suffering damage award, they are asking what the victim might have paid to avoid the ongoing discomfort and trauma of the injury. This is, of course, an imperfect science and many victims would not accept any amount of money for enduring serious pain and suffering, but it is the law’s attempt to “make victims whole” for all of their injuries, including emotional ones.
When Are Pain and Suffering Damages Available?
Pain and suffering awards are made when there is a physical injury which at least results in medical costs. Not every injury case includes a pain and suffering award, but the more serious, painful, and long-lasting the injury, the more likely it is that there will be a pain and suffering award. The amount of the award is often determined by looking at verdicts and judgments in the area involving similar injuries, and an experienced personal injury attorney will put significant effort into pursuing every legal strategy to obtain the maximum pain and suffering award available, as it is often one of the largest aspects of a victim’s recovery.
Note that, when there is no physical injury that occurred to a victim, but the victim has suffered emotional trauma, there may be other types of claims for which that victim can pursue recovery. For example, extreme and outrageous conduct that results in severe emotional distress can be the grounds of an intentional infliction of emotional distress award. Likewise, when a senior citizen experiences mental abuse, that may be the basis of an elder abuse claim. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to determine what legal options are available in your circumstance.
Contact Berglund & Johnson Today
At Berglund & Johnson, our attorneys are committed to serving our clients in an honorable, ethical, and compassionate manner. Contact Berglund & Johnson today at 1-800-4IF-HURT to schedule a brief, no-hassle consultation to discuss your situation and see how we might be of service to you and your family.