Motor vehicle collisions happen every day in our region. Even a safe, skilled, and careful driver can still end up in a serious wreck. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that more than 275,000 people are hurt in auto accidents annually. After a crash, you have a right to seek compensation for your damages, including out-of-pocket losses such as medical bills and lost wages.
You may also have a claim for compensation for non-economic damages. Pain and suffering is one of the most common types of non-economic. You have a right to seek compensation for pain and suffering after a crash in Stockton. Here, our Stockton auto accident lawyers explain the key things that injured victims need to know about pain and suffering and car accident claims in California.
What is Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?
From a legal perspective, pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage that is used to describe the physical pain, mental suffering, and emotional trauma that a person endured in an accident. California allows recovery for pain and suffering as part of a civil car accident injury claim. It is a somewhat vague concept. The California Civil Jury Instructions (3905A) state the following two things about pain and suffering damages:
- There is no fixed standard to determine how much pain and suffering compensation should be granted in any given personal injury claim; and
- When this issue goes before a jury, members are instructed to use their judgment and common sense to determine a reasonable amount of compensation for pain and suffering.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages after a Car Crash in Stockton
By definition, pain and suffering is intangible. With no fixed standard in place, you may be wondering how pain and suffering is actually calculated after a car accident in California. The short answer is that courts tend to use one of two different methods to determine the rough baseline for pain and suffering damages. The methods are as follows:
- Multiplier Method: Pain and suffering can be granted as a “multiple” of an injured car accident victim’s actual economic losses. For example, a person may have sustained $5,000 in medical bills and $2,000 in lost wages in a car wreck in Stockton. With a multiple of ‘2’, a court would award an additional $14,000 in pain and suffering.
- Per Diem Method: The per diem method focuses on assigning a dollar amount for each day of pain and suffering after a car accident. As example, a court may determine that a serious crash caused a person to endure 60 days of pain and suffering. If each day is valued at $100, that would be a total of $6,000 in pain and suffering damages.
In most cases, the multiplier method is preferred over the per diem method. That being said, neither “method” is easy to apply to a real-world car accident case. What multiple will be picked or what dollar amount will be assigned for each day depends entirely on the specific circumstances. Ultimately, pain and suffering from a car accident is always awarded on a case-by-case basis.
California Law: Uninsured Drivers Cannot Sue for Pain and Suffering
California requires all motorists to obtain minimum mandatory automobile insurance coverage. A driver who fails to follow state insurance requirements could face significant legal sanctions, including fines. Beyond that, our state also has a specialized law in place that prohibits uninsured motorists from suing for pain and suffering damages after an accident. Under California Civil Code 3333.4(2), an injured victim cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering if they were “the owner of a vehicle involved in the accident and the vehicle was not insured as required by the financial responsibility laws of this state.”
Insurers Often Downplay Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident
Getting full and fair financial compensation for pain and suffering after a car crash in Central California is rarely easy. Sadly, the large insurance carriers that defend and administer claims are focused on their own bottom line. They often try to downplay the extent of a victim’s pain and suffering after a crash. Here are four steps to take after a traffic collision in Stockton to help ensure that you are in the best position to maximize your pain and suffering compensation:
- Get Prompt Medical Attention and Follow-up Care: You will be in a far better position to claim compensation for pain and suffering if you see a doctor as soon as possible after a crash and attend all of your follow up appointments. Ultimately, medical evidence is the key to a car accident injury claim. It can help establish your pain and suffering.
- Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement to Insurance Adjusters: Insurance adjusters want to use your own words against you to undermine the extent of your pain and suffering. It is best to avoid giving a recorded statement after a crash.
- Keep Comprehensive Personal Records: Your personal testimony matters. Contemporaneous notes can be compelling. Carefully record the ways in which your pain and suffering after affecting your life.
- Consult With a Stockton Car Accident Lawyer: Do not go up against big insurance companies all by yourself. An experienced Stockton, CA car accident lawyer will protect your rights and help you maximize your financial recovery.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Attorney in Stockton, California
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton car accident lawyers are aggressive, experienced representatives for injured victims and their loved ones. We are focused on helping people get the full and fair financial compensation that they rightfully deserve, including for pain and suffering. If you have any questions about pain and suffering damages and car accidents, our legal team is here to help. Contact us now for a free review of your case. We represent injured victims in Stockton, San Joaquin County, and throughout all of Central California.