Pain and Suffering Damages in California
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 07, 2018
Whether you still have whiplash from that accident you were in on the PCH, or that hot new toy out of Silicon Valley blew up in your hand, do not suffer in silence. As luck might have it, juries are required to award pain and suffering damages in California in certain cases. The information below is intended to help you determine whether your circumstances might be one of those cases.
In California, pain and suffering damages are available as part of the larger category of "non-economic damages" which includes:
- Mental suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Injury to reputation
Check out the chart and accompanying explanations below for more information on pain and suffering damages in California.
Statute of Limitations
Pure Comparative Fault
Unlike most states, California law dictates that courts must use the pure comparative fault rule to allocate liability for non-economic damages. What this means is that even if the court determines that you were more responsible for your accident than any other party, you can still receive a proportional amount of damages. For example, let’s say that the court determines you were 70% responsible for your injury. If the court awarded you $100,000 in non-economic damages, the court would reduce your damage award, but you could still receive $30,000 in non-economic damages.
Types of Claims
As is common in most states, California does not permit pain and suffering damages in worker's compensation claims. However, California does award pain and suffering damages for several other claims:
- Car accidents
- Defective Products
- Slip and fall
- Wrongful death
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional Injury (Intentional Tort)
Circumstance Limits on Damages
In three specific cases, California statutorily prohibits pain and suffering damage awards to people injured in car accidents. In these cases, the injured party cannot recover if the injured party:
- Was convicted of a DUI in connection with the accident
- Owned a car involved in an accident and the car was uninsured or underinsured, unless the defendant was convicted of a DUI in connection with the accident
- Driving a car involved in the accident and was uninsured or underinsured
Time Limits on Damages
Like most states, California has state imposed time limits, known to courts and attorneys as "statutes of limitations" that require lawsuits to be filed within certain set period of time. Whether your pain and suffering is the result of a car accident, a slip and fall incident, any other negligent act of another, or the result of an intentional act, California requires you to file your lawsuit within two years of the incident. For medical malpractice cases, you must file your lawsuit within one year after you discover the injury or three years after the date of the injury, whichever occurs first.
Learn More About Pain and Suffering Damages in California from a Lawyer
Fortunately, for those injured in the Golden State, California's laws are generally quite generous to injured parties. If your dream California getaway landed you on a permanent staycation, you may be entitled to compensation for more than just the in-home nurse you had to hire. Pain and suffering damages are often readily available in California, but because the awards are not an exact science, it can be tough to estimate the strength and value of your claim. Increase your chances of winning your claim by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney in California.
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