Yes, pain and suffering are considered a personal injury and are valued as part of your personal injury claim. Pain and suffering are awarded to an injured party for injuries that go beyond physical damage. In California, there is no set formula for calculating pain and suffering damages, but courts will usually consider certain factors to come up with a justifiable number. Some of those factors include the amount of economic damages sustained by the injured party such as medical bills and property damage, how severe the physical injury is, the strength of the injured party’s case, and the defendant’s actions. This process is very subjective and although these factors are commonly used, there is no set formula for awarding pain and suffering damages.
There are other non-economic damages besides pain and suffering. Such damages include emotional distress, loss of a spouse’s care, and disability damages. Courts allow for this type of recovery because they recognize that damages from an accident or injury may extend well beyond physical pain and often cannot be measured by medical bills. The injured party’s subjective mental or emotional state is translated into a monetary loss. This is why the calculation is often difficult. The question becomes “how much pain is worth how much money?”
The answer is ultimately left to the jury. When determining non-economic damages the jury is given significant discretion. The general rule is that the injured party can recover an amount that will make up for all their harm suffered. Pain and suffering that naturally result from the injury are considered an aggravation of the harm suffered. The jury may be presented with expert testimony to prove resulting psychological issues, or they might only hear from the injured party and how the injury affected them. Either is sufficient for the jury to decide that pain and suffering damages are appropriate.
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