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.

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Multimillion Dollar Verdicts are Not Common in Personal Injury Lawsuits

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Headlines are littered with news reports and press releases of personal injury lawsuits and other similar cases in which the injured victims obtain millions of dollars in monetary damages. With the large number of such cases that are reported on by the media, one might be forgiven for assuming that the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits end with such large sums of money being awarded to the victim. This, in turn, can lead a person to seek out an attorney who claims to have a record of obtaining these types of judgments to handle his or her own personal injury lawsuit.

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The Truth Behind Multimillion Dollar Awards

In truth, only a small percentage of personal injury lawsuits end with the injury victim receiving millions – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars in compensation. Those that do typically have several of the following factors in common:

  •      The victim was of a young age with few or no preexisting conditions that limited his or her life;
  •      The victim suffered a considerable amount of pain in the aftermath of the incident;
  •      The victim will be left permanently disabled in some way as a result of his or her injuries;
  •      The victim will require continuing medical treatment or medical assistance for a considerable length of time;
  •      The victim had children and/or a spouse who depended on the victim for love, companionship, and support;
  •      The victim was active in one or more activities prior to the incident, and as a result the victim may not be able to fully participate in these activities.

In addition, evidence that the at-fault party acted with extreme indifference, gross negligence, or deliberately caused the victim’s injuries can lead a court to impose punitive damages in addition to other economic and noneconomic damages.

What the Headlines Don’t Emphasize

Even where a victim obtains a multimillion dollar compensation award, this award may be reviewed by the trial court or one or more appellate courts. Any one of these courts may lower or throw out a judgment award they believe to be grossly unfair or disproportionate to the harm suffered by the victim. In other words, just because a victim was awarded a large sum of damages after a trial does not mean that he or she will actually get such an award, especially where the case was tried to a jury.

Can the Right Attorney Help Me Obtain More Compensation

To be sure, however, having the assistance of an experienced and skilled California personal injury attorney like a member of Case Barnett Law’s legal team can help increase the likelihood that you will receive a compensation award that fully and fairly compensates you for your injuries.  At Case Barnett Law, we carefully help our personal injury clients evaluate the losses they experienced as a result of their injury incident and then aggressively fight to help our clients obtain this compensation.  Contact us at (949) 861-2990, or complete our online form, and discuss your personal injury case with us today.

Case Barnett Law Settles Trip and Fall Case for $ 4.3 Million Dollars

Dr. B vs. Homeowner’s Association

Case Barnett Law Corporation

 

Verdict: Defendant found Liable by jury

Settlement: 4.3 Million Dollars

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It’s not often that an attorney settles a trip and fall case for $4.3 million, but in 2016, Case Barnett Law did. Dr. RB lived in a posh Orange County neighborhood paying over $700 a month in monthly homeowner’s association dues. A water meter box was continually broken in front of his home. Dr. RB complained to his homeowner’s association about the broken water meter box on multiple occasions.

After a day at work, Dr. RB returned in the evening and parked his car in the driveway. He exited the car to get his mail. His second step went in to the broken water meter cover causing serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury and severed tendons in his hand.

The defendants repeatedly passed responsibility among each other and pointed the finger back at Dr. RB for not fixing it himself, and for knowing about it, but failing to avoid it. The liability issues were complicated because of the covenants, codes and restrictions (the CC&R’s), the governing documents for the homeowner’s association and the HOA’s attempts to shift responsibility to the homeowners. CC&R’s give HOA’s the ability to make their own laws and distribute responsibilities. A close inspection of these governing documents is essential to suing any homeowner’s association.

Four of the five defendants acknowledged their safety failings before trial. One defendant did not. A jury dropped the hammer on the remaining defendant. At the end of the trial, the combined defendants were forced to pay $4.3 million to the plaintiff. Be safe. Don’t endanger others. If you do, Case Barnett law will force you to face the consequences.

Nursing Home Saves Money at the Expense of its Patients. Ends up Being a $1 Million Dollar Mistake.

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L.F. v. Nursing Home

Case Barnett Law Corporation

Settlement: 1 Million Dollars

A lucrative nursing home in Orange County decided to save money on nursing staff. The nursing homes make more money by hiring fewer nurses than needed to provide appropriate care. Patients are then left in their own feces and urine for hours at a time. These patients frequently develop bedsores and other humiliating and painful injuries because they aren’t helped. Case Barnett Law made this facility pay.
91 year old L.F. ends up in the emergency room septic, with a bed sore, a 102 degree fever and a soiled diaper. She had been essentially forgotten about and left to die. Then, adding insult to injury, the nursing staff “backdated” their notes writing that they had recently bathed her and she had rolled herself in a wheelchair to the cafeteria smiling and laughing.
For two years the nursing facility refused to accept responsibility only offering $30,000, nuisance value to make the lawsuit go away. The family and Case Barnett Law refused to accept this. Like L.F., they are fighters. Case Barnett Law took more than 20 depositions and engaged in vigorous discovery to prove that the nursing home had neglected this beautiful woman. As part of the resolution, the facility must pay $1,000,000 to the family of L.F. and was forced to make changes in order to prevent this from happening to any one else ever again.

Case Barnett Law Featured in the Daily Journal- Personal Injury: Premises Liability Settlement

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.34.18 AMVERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS

Friday, November 20, 2015

PERSONAL INJURY

PREMISES LIABILITY

Dangerous Condition

SETTLEMENT: $3,800,00.00

COURT/DATE: Riverside Superior/Aug. 10, 2015

JUDGE: Hon. John Vineyard

ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff- Case C. Barnett, Case Barnett Law Corporation, Schumann Rosenberg, Defendant- Daley & Heft LLP

FACTS: Audio/Visual technician Scharf, 58, volunteered to install electrical wiring at his church Calvary Chapel Temecula Valley, in Temecula.  On January 25,2005, Scharf fell off the top of a wall as he was trying to install cable and wiring inside the church.

PLAINTIFFS’ CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs contended that defendant church and Pastor Nelson were negligent in their operation and management of a construction project at the church. Plaintiff claimed that because of the mismanagement of the project, Scharf was left alone on a Sunday night on a short timeline without adequate tools or supplies to complete the project he was requested to perform.

Plaintiff’s wife allegedly found her husband lying unconscious on the floor with blood and cerebral spinal fluid around his head. The Scharfs sued the church, the officer and director of the church, the owner of the premises, and the general contractor and its owner under various negligence causes of action as well as promissory estoppel and loss of consortium.

DEFENDANTS’ CONTENTIONS: Defendants contended that Scharf was negligent while performing the installation work.

INJURIES: Scharf claimed he fractured his skull, nose, and knee and broke several bones in his shoulder. He was in a coma for approximately three weeks. Plaintiff underwent knee replacement surgery. Plaintiff was later diagnosed with brain injury. The injury allegedly triggered a server mood disorder that was accompanied by psychosis, intense anger and paranoia. Scharf also allegedly showed symptoms of dementia.

RESULT: The jury found Calvary Chapel Temecula Valley and Nelson 49 percent liable and Scharf 51 percent liable.

The parties settled for $3.8 million prior to the damages phase of trial. The breakdown of damages included $2 million for life care and planning and $1.8 million for pain and suffering.