Under California law, pain and suffering is a category of intangible damages which are formally referred to in the jury instructions as “non-economic” damages. This is usually the largest type of damages claimed. This is the area that a skilled attorney will be able to maximize for the injured client. This category of damages encompasses all of the following items: physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress.
We recommend that these items be proven at trial through the testimony of health care professionals, such as doctors and therapists, or others who knew the victim before and after the injury. Examples are friends, relatives, and co-workers. We believe that these witnesses lend more credibility to these intangible damages than if the victim testifies about these items. Victims can be viewed as biased because they stand to benefit from a large jury verdict.
Certain injuries are clearly worth more to insurance companies than others. Spinal trauma such as herniations and fractured vertebrae, broken bones with surgical repair, lacerations leaving permanent scarring, paralysis and physical disability, damaged internal organs and other such objectively verifiable injuries are worth more to insurance companies and juries than minor soft tissue sprain and strain injuries, emotional distress, and other injuries where the symptoms are completely subjective. Even though most broken bones heal faster than many so-called “whiplash” injuries, insurance adjuster will almost always place more value on the former. The insurance adjuster know that a jury will likely award more at trial for a compound fracture because the jurors can see your injury and may feel your pain. But for injury claims with purely subjective symptoms, it is difficult for a jury to empathize and feel your pain.
Conversely, if your doctor has opined about any amount of permanent impairment, or you have scarring or disfigurement, these factors will increase the value of a claim by a fairly substantial amount. Scars from burns or dog bites, especially on the face and on females or children, are valued highly. Any permanent disfiguring marks are constant reminders of the injury. Adjusters and Jurors can see such injuries and justifiably will likely value them higher than in cases involving only subjective symptoms of pain reported by the injured claimant. These evaluations seem unfair, but they are a fact of life.
For more information on Pain & Suffering In A Personal Injury Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (760) 721-8182 today.