How do Courts Quantify Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The cliché that the things that truly make your life enjoyable do not have a price tag is true. In fact, most people do not even realize how much their happiness depends on being able to walk without pain, drive without fear, or rely on the emotional support of a family member unless they have lost those things temporarily or permanently. If you have never suffered a serious injury in an accident, you might balk at the amounts that courts sometimes award to plaintiffs and assume that the plaintiffs or their attorneys are being greedy by requesting such large sums. In fact, sometimes courts use a mathematical formula to determine the amount of money to award for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment. The amount awarded for pain and suffering in car accident lawsuits sometimes comes down to multiplying the economic damages by a certain number, depending on how much the suffering resulting from the accident has changed the plaintiff’s life.

Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Case Barnett Law understands the impact of pain and suffering in an injured person’s life.

The General Damages Multiplier

Courts and insurance companies sometimes multiply the economic damages associated with a car accident (past and future medical expenses, property damage, and past and future lost income) by a factor of anywhere from one and a half to five. The idea is that long-term physical pain and emotional suffering resulting from an accident compound the damage caused by the accident. For example, if the accident left you with a phobia of driving, whereas you once used to enjoy driving, then that could lead the court to apply a general damages multiplier. Likewise, in a wrongful death lawsuit, the more the plaintiff depended on the victim financially and emotionally, the greater the general damages multiplier. People sometimes give the example of a personal injury lawsuit settlement worth three times the amount of the medical expenses, but this is just one example.

Providing Evidence of Pain and Suffering

In order to show how much the accident disrupted your life, you must give evidence of things you used to be able to do that you can no longer do because of your injuries. For example, were you an athlete and are no longer able to play your favorite sport? Were you an accompanist for your church choir, but because of hand injuries resulting from the accident, can you no longer play the piano? Did you used to enjoy ballroom dancing with your spouse, but you can no longer participate because the accident left you with chronic pain, thus leaving your spouse without a dance partner and a valued social outlet? All of these things can factor into a court’s decision when awarding non-economic damages.

Contact Case Barnett Law About Car Accident Cases in Orange County, California 

If you have been injured in a car accident, you might feel like no one understands how much the accident has disrupted your life, but a skilled personal injury lawyer knows how to show evidence of your suffering. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in a car accident.

Multi-Vehicle Accident on I-880 Involves a Bus and a Truck

Look carefully at your driver’s license; it has an alphabetic code referring to what kinds of vehicles you are licensed to drive. Most drivers in California have a basic class C license, which allows you to drive a car, van, pickup truck, or small farm vehicle such as a tractor. Class A and class B licenses are for bigger, heavier vehicles; it requires a much greater level of skill to drive them, and thus, the licensing requirements are much stricter. Huge vehicles like trucks and buses can do a lot of damage in a collision, and thus, commercial vehicle accidents are at least as likely to cause serious injuries than traffic accidents involving simple two-axle cars.  This week, both a semi-truck and a bus were involved in a multi-vehicle collision on I-880 in California, leading to two fatalities.

Multi-Vehicle Accident

Case Barnett Law represents victims in car, semi truck, big rig and bus accident lawsuits.

Tour Bus Collides with Two Cars and a Truck on I-880

On the evening of Tuesday, October 30, 2018, a tour bus traveling on I-880 near the border of Hayward and Union City, failed to slow down in time when it ran into stop and go traffic, and it rear-ended the car in front of it. This led to a multi-vehicle collision, in which the bus also hit another car, causing it to collide with a nearby semi-truck. The drivers of both cars were killed, and the driver of the truck was taken to the hospital to be treated for neck pain. The bus driver was not injured, and there were no passengers in the bus at the time of the accident.

Legal Issues That Arise from Multi-Vehicle Accidents 

News outlets have not reported on any legal actions arising from the collision. Based on published descriptions of the accident, it sounds like most of the fault for the accident belongs to the driver of the tour bus. Thus, the families of the drivers killed in the accident may have a case for a wrongful death claim against the bus company. If it is determined that the condition of the roads made it impossible for the bus driver to stop in time to avoid hitting the cars, there could be grounds for a premises liability suit against the county or state. News reports have not provided information on the severity of the truck driver’s injuries, but he might also have a claim against the bus company. The trucking company is legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which will likely bear the cost of treatment for the truck driver’s injuries and for compensating him for any time that he must miss work because of the accident.

Contact Case Barnett Law About Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases

Failure to observe the highest safety standards when operating a commercial vehicle such as a bus or truck can have disastrous results. People injured in commercial vehicle accidents are often entitled to compensation. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle.

29-Year-Old Woman Gives Birth After Being Raped in Nursing Home

When I read the recent news about a 29-year-old woman who gave birth after being raped in a nursing home I was filled with rage. Chills shot up my spine and hot anger filled my body. Then, I remembered, THIS…. THIS is why we do what we do.

KABC Los Angeles just released this video detailing the incident.

Woman Gives Birth After Being Raped in Nursing Home

Woman Gives Birth After Being Raped in Nursing Home

The young victim had been at the nursing facility for more than 14 years after she suffered a near-drowning incident that left her in a vegetative state. According to news reports  the staff did not know that the victim was pregnant until she went into labor and began moaning.

The Arizona Department of Health says they are actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation. Additionally, Adult Protective Services are conducting health and safety checks on all current residents of the nursing home.

It will be interesting to see what surfaces as the investigation of this nursing home moves forward. We will learn if past complaints have been filed and we will see if there are other victims. Perhaps what will be the most shocking, is if we learn that staffers knew about patients who were being abused but did nothing about it. Sadly, this is a very likely possibility and one that we see in both nursing home abuse cases and sexual assault cases in schools and churches.

Mandated Reporting Laws for Nurses, Doctors and Teachers

Many groups of professionals are mandated reporters. Teachers, doctors, and nurses fall into these groups. According to CPH & Associates, “Nurses are listed in most, if not all, mandatory reporting statutes.  Statutes include child abuse and neglect reporting statutes, medical neglect of children and the elderly, elder abuse in the community or in nursing homes reporting laws, and domestic violence.” This means that both the nursing home and its individual employees may be on the hook in this case. Both for a criminal lawsuit and a civil lawsuit.

Part of being a mandated reporter means that there are steps you MUST take if you suspect one of your patients is being abused or neglected. CPH & Associates lists the criteria found below:

  • Watch, look and listen to your patient.  Gather as much information as you can about the patient’s concerns;
  • Assess the patient constantly for any signs of physical abuse, mental anguish, fear, financial abuse or unusual behavior;
  • Document your observations and conversations pursuant to your facility or agency’s policy and if forms are required, use them;
  • Share your concerns with the individual identified in your facility or agency policy to do so (e.g., CNO, Administrator, Risk Manager);
  • Visit websites in your state that deal with reporting abuse and neglect to obtain guidance, especially in the event your concerns are not supported by your agency or facility; most have direct hot-lines for you to report your concerns without any agency support;
  • Consult with a nurse attorney or attorney to help guide you with the reporting, especially if you are not supported by your employer;
  • If you are in home health nursing, in the ED, or in a long-term facility, and you or your patient is threatened, either of your lives are at risk, or injury is a possibility, call security (if available) and 9-11; and

If this is the industry standard and nursing homes are built to take care of our loved ones how, then, did this pregnancy go unnoticed? The story is one we, as attorneys who sue nursing homes, hear all too often and it goes like this…

Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities

Nursing homes and other facilities that care for the elderly or vulnerable commonly save money by hiring cheap, inexperienced nursing assistants (and usually not enough of them). These are the ones that the facility only puts out during the night shifts to hide them from the families of the patients. The facilities do little to investigate their backgrounds and provide even less monitoring.

Nursing assistants are an easy way for facilities to save money because there are no state regulations for the minimum number of nursing assistants to provide safe patient care. Nursing assistants do not have nearly the same amount of training or patient care skills as RN’s or LVN’s. In California, one need only complete a training program that consists of 50 hours of classroom instruction and 100 hours of supervised clinical training.

Nursing assistants typically are tasked with repositioning patients in order to prevent bedsores. The state sets mandatory minimums for nurses per patient per shift. Not so with CNA’s. Facilities will use an insufficient number of CNA’s to save money. When there are not enough CNA’s, patients miss out on basic needs like being repositioned. Not being repositioned leads to bedsores. CNA’s are commonly also responsible for changing a patients diaper and for toileting of patients. Again, not enough CNA’s means that patients are left in their own filth for prolonged periods of time. All in the name of corporate profit.

Leaving CNA’s unsupervised with our most vulnerable populations is dangerous. Many facilities for the elderly and vulnerable just don’t care enough to hire the right people to provide safe care. They only care about how much money they can cram into their coffers.

How Do We Protect Our Loved Ones in Nursing Homes?

Often, people think of Nursing Homes as places for the elderly only. As you can see from this incident, nursing homes are for anyone who needs nursing care. These are the places we are supposed to trust. We are supposed to be safe here. We put our loved ones in Nursing Homes when they need a level of care we can’t provide for them at home.

These facilities have a DUTY to care of their patients. Instead, their main focus in on making as much money as possible. Even if it means death, abuse, neglect and sickness in their facility.

The young woman in this story is the victim of a flawed system that, all too often, abuses the most vulnerable members of our society.  She was completely unable to defend herself  and after the rape she had no way to communicate that she was pregnant.

The victim in this situation required around the clock care and many people had access to her. How, then, is it possible that NOT A SINGLE PERSON noticed that she was pregnant? How was there no one who suspected abuse within the walls of this hell?

It is important to research any facility that you plan on placing your loved one in. We have written a comprehensive legal guide, The California Survival Guide to Finding a Nursing Home for Your Loved One: 7 Ways to Ensure That You Choose the Right Facility. A free download is available on our website.
Finding a Nursing Home for Your Loved One: 7 Ways to Ensure That You Choose the Right Facility

Finding a Nursing Home for Your Loved One: 7 Ways to Ensure That You Choose the Right Facility

If you or a loved one have been injured, neglected or abused in a California nursing home or skilled nursing facility, Case Barnett Law can help. Call us today at (949) 861-2990 or contact us here.