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Auto accidents: Claiming damages for pain and suffering

When a person suffers injuries due to the recklessness or negligence of another, Californian civil law provides for the injured victim to claim for such damages. In the case of auto accidents, a victim may be eligible to claim for more than just repair costs of the vehicle and hospital bills. A victim may also qualify to claim for the pain and suffering he or she endured.

Damages are often categorized as general and special damages. The first category relates to damages where the harm has to be assessed and calculated, and includes, among others, mental anguish, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The second category relates to damages which can be proved through receipts and quotes and includes damages to vehicles, loss of income and medical bills.

While the extent of special damages is easy to determine, the same cannot be said for general damages, such as the suffering associated with pain. The problem is that pain experienced cannot be seen, which makes it difficult to determine how much someone is suffering and how much money could be considered as fair compensation. The main reason being the subjective nature of pain and suffering.

One way to calculate damages due to pain and suffering is to make use of a method where general damages are taken proportionally to the cost of the special damages based on the presumption that the higher the hospital bills, the more suffering the victim had to endure. However, the method is criticized mainly due to the arbitrary way in which lawyers decide on the multiplier to use and the potential of results to not be a true reflection of the victim's pain and suffering. For example a model's emotional suffering because of facial injuries may not be reflected in the hospital bills.

While the method is not fool proof, it is a good place to start. However, a consultation with a Californian personal injury lawyer can assist in ensuring a fair result in a case. Experienced lawyers have a good understanding of the way juries and insurers look at auto accident claims for pain and suffering.                     

Source: FindLaw, "Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages", Accessed on Dec. 27, 2017

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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