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September 20, 2023

5 California Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples Made Easy to Understand

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Short answer: Below is a quick look at examples of California pain and suffering settlements based on injury severity.

Pain and Suffering Severity Average Settlement Amount
Minimal Approximately: Approximately: $5,000 – $15,000
Moderate Approximately: Approximately: $20,000 – $50,000
Extreme Approximately: $75,000 and above

Understanding the potential range of pain and suffering settlements in California can help you gauge the compensation you might receive for your personal injury claim. Please note that these figures are approximate and can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the specific circumstances of your case and the severity of your injuries.

Minimal Pain and Suffering

(Approximately: $5,000 – $15,000): This category typically involves minor injuries or emotional distress with relatively low impact on your daily life. Examples might include minor sprains, bruises, or short-term anxiety.

Moderate Pain and Suffering

(Approximately: $20,000 – $50,000): Injuries that cause moderate pain and suffering might include more serious physical injuries like fractures, significant emotional distress, or prolonged anxiety. These injuries can have a noticeable impact on your daily life and well-being.

Extreme Pain and Suffering

(Approximately: $75,000 and above): Cases falling into this category often involve severe or catastrophic injuries, extensive emotional trauma, or long-term suffering. Examples include major surgeries, permanent disabilities, or substantial emotional distress that significantly affect your quality of life.

An experienced personal injury attorney can provide a more accurate assessment based on your specific case, as they can consider the unique factors surrounding your claim to help you pursue the maximum compensation possible for your pain and suffering.

Real California Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples

Here are some examples of real injury settlements in California:

  1. In Richmond, CA, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle, resulting in severe injuries, loss of work, and substantial medical bills. This accident was caused by the driver’s negligence, with no adverse road conditions. The pedestrian received a $225,000 settlement for her case.
  2. A motorcyclist tragically lost his life in a collision with a pickup truck attempting a left turn out of a driveway. Jurors in Los Angeles awarded the motorcyclist’s parents $36.25 million in a verdict rendered on September 16 following two days of deliberations. This legal battle commenced on August 29 and resulted in each parent receiving $18,125,000.
  3. In Costa County, an employee suffered head injuries while performing a property inspection as part of her employment with CBRE Property Management when an unsecured fence post struck them. The case was ultimately settled for $2.1 million, with a $250,000 contribution from the compensation carrier.
  4. One woman was rear-ended by a cement pumping truck, resulting in various injuries, including inner ear concussion, mild traumatic brain injury, and an aggravation of pre-existing PTSD. The case ultimately settled for $400,000 during jury selection.
  5. A San Bernardino man was awarded $46 million in damages for injuries he suffered in a 2013 roadside accident involving a Nissan delivery driver. The victim, a landscaper, lost his left leg and suffered spleen injuries when struck by the Nissan driver. The trial determined that the Nissan dealership was liable for the accident.

What is the Average Settlement for Pain and Suffering in California?

There is no fixed “average” settlement amount for pain and suffering in California as it varies widely based on numerous factors. California places limits on non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, in certain cases. For example, in medical malpractice suits, the state limits non-economic damages to $250,000.

The actual settlement amount depends on factors such as the severity of injuries, the circumstances of the case, the skill of your attorney, and negotiations with the responsible party or their insurance company. Settlements can range from thousands to millions of dollars.

Recent jury verdicts in California personal injury cases have awarded substantial amounts, including over $1 million for future pain and suffering. These figures, however, may not represent the “average” settlement, as they can be influenced by unique case details.

In personal injury cases, we recommend consulting with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your situation and provide a more accurate estimate of potential pain and suffering damages. The statute of limitations in California typically allows two years to file a lawsuit after an accident, so it’s important to act promptly if you believe you have a valid claim.

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pain and suffering in california

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in California?

In California, the calculation of pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases is not based on a fixed formula but depends on various factors. To recover these damages, a plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered or will suffer emotional distress and other economic damages. Several methods are commonly used to calculate pain and suffering damages in California:

Multiplier Formula

This method involves multiplying the economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) by a specific multiplier. The multiplier can range from 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the injuries and other circumstances. This determines the non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.

Per Diem Method

Under this approach, a daily rate is assigned for pain and suffering, and the total compensation is calculated by multiplying this daily rate by the number of days the victim is expected to endure the suffering.

Nature of Suffering

Pain and suffering damages encompass various forms of distress, including physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, disfigurement, mental suffering, and anxiety. Unlike medical bills or lost wages, these are subjective and do not have a specific monetary value.

We recommend consulting with a personal injury attorney to determine the most suitable method for calculating pain and suffering damages in your specific case. Additionally, there may be factors like caps on recovery that could impact the final compensation amount, so seeking legal advice is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of your situation.

What Damages Can Pain and Suffering Victims Receive?

Pain and suffering victims in personal injury cases may be eligible to receive various types of damages, both economic and non-economic. Here are the key categories of damages that pain and suffering victims can receive:

  • Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering fall under non-economic damages, which aim to compensate victims for intangible losses. These include physical and emotional pain, mental anguish, and a decreased quality of life due to injuries.
  • Emotional Distress: Victims can receive compensation for emotional distress, which encompasses the psychological impact of the injury, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This type of damage compensates victims for the loss of the ability to enjoy activities and experiences they once had before the injury.
  • Disfigurement: If the injury results in visible scarring or disfigurement, victims may receive damages to compensate for the physical changes and potential emotional distress it causes.
  • Loss of Consortium: In some cases, spouses or family members may receive compensation for the loss of companionship or support due to the victim’s injuries.
  • Medical Expenses: Victims can claim economic damages for medical bills, including past and future medical costs related to the injury.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury causes the victim to miss work, they may receive compensation for lost wages and potential future earnings.

Please note that you cannot obtain damages for pain and suffering in workers’ compensation claims in California.

pain and suffering damages california

Which Factors Affect Settlement Amount the Most?

The settlement amount in a personal injury case is influenced by several key factors. While each case is unique, the following factors tend to have the most significant impact on the settlement amount:

  • Type and Severity of Injury: The nature and severity of the injury play a crucial role. More severe injuries with long-lasting consequences often result in higher settlements.
  • Medical Expenses: The total medical expenses incurred due to the injury, including past and future costs, are a major factor. This includes hospital bills, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury causes the victim to miss work or reduces their earning capacity, this loss of income is factored into the settlement.
  • Emotional Harm: Emotional distress, pain, and suffering are non-economic damages that can significantly affect the settlement amount.
  • Liability and Fault: Establishing liability and fault is essential. If it’s clear that the other party is at fault, it can lead to a larger settlement.
  • Insurance Coverage: The insurance policy limits of both the injured party and the at-fault party can impact the settlement. Higher policy limits can result in larger settlements.
  • Cost of Going to Trial: The expenses and uncertainties associated with going to trial can influence the decision to settle and the settlement amount.
  • Evidence and Documentation: The strength of the evidence, including medical records, accident reports, and witness statements, can affect the settlement negotiation.
  • Legal Representation: Having an experienced personal injury attorney can help negotiate a higher settlement, as they understand the legal process and can advocate effectively for the victim.

The interplay of these factors varies in every case. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is critical in accurately assessing the specific circumstances of your case.

What’s the Best Way to Maximize a Settlement Amount?

The best way to maximize a settlement amount is to get legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests, negotiate effectively, evaluate settlement offers, and document everything related to your case. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and negotiation skills to the table, ensuring that you have a strong advocate fighting for your case

Maximizing a settlement in a personal injury case necessitates a combination of legal expertise, thorough preparation, and effective negotiation. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is typically the first and most crucial step to navigate the complexities of personal injury claims successfully and secure the highest possible settlement.

Get Connected with a Lawyer

Our team at LawLinq is here to help you connect with experienced personal injury attorneys in California who can fight for your rights and maximize your pain and suffering settlement. Our lawyer referral service simplifies the process, making it easy for you to find the right attorney for your specific case.

To get started, simply fill out our easy-to-use online form or give us a call. Our team will gather some basic information about your situation, and then our team will match you with a skilled personal injury attorney in your area. Your attorney will provide a free initial consultation, allowing you to discuss your case, ask questions, and get a better understanding of your legal options.

With the guidance of a dedicated attorney, you can pursue the compensation you deserve and focus on your recovery. Connect with a lawyer through LawLinq today and take the first step toward securing the compensation and justice you rightfully deserve.

About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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