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The Importance of Pain and Suffering Damages When It Comes to Getting Full and Fair Compensation for Your Auto Accident Injuries in California

Some people have an unfortunate tendency to view “pain and suffering” damages as somehow less legitimate – mostly just the stuff of shrewd lawyers’ fancy legal arguments and overly sympathetic jurors. Anyone who has been substantially injured in an auto accident – or knows someone who has been – knows that this simply isn’t true. An auto accident injury has the potential to affect you negatively for the remainder of your life. The totality of the harm you suffered in that auto accident is greater than just the amount of income you lost (and will lose) and the sum of your medical bills. When it comes time to seek all of the damages that you deserve, be sure you’ve sought out a skilled San Mateo car accident attorney.

Many times, the totality of your pain and suffering harm (also called “non-economic damages” in California) will exceed your “economic” losses like lost earnings and medical expenses, and perhaps exceed it by a lot. For example, last year, the state Supreme Court ruled on a case where the jury awarded $1.8 million in economic damages and $3 million in non-economic damages. Although the net verdict was a smaller sum, the high court ruled in favor of the trial court outcome.

A trial court case from Southern California (Orange County Ct. Case No.30-2019-01055888) is another good example. The injured driver was a 48-year-old woman who was rear-ended as she traveled to the mall. The woman suffered a cervical soft-tissue injury in her neck.


Two days after the accident, the woman began experiencing headaches, hearing loss and ringing in her left ear.

Every non-economic damages award is different because every injured person is different. For example, say you are passionate about music. You play music in your free time every day, compose original music, and regularly sing in your church choir. For someone like you, a lifetime of hearing loss and ringing in the ears could mean a lot of emotional pain and suffering, and it might be a lot more than your medical bills and lost income.

This mall shopper was someone in that kind of position. She was a housewife and, as a result, would have a low number when it comes to lost earnings damages. She had racked up only $13,000 in past medical bills, and the cost of her future treatment was determined to be $20,000, making for $33,000 in medical expense damages. The total amount of economic damages she received was $53,000.

However, the woman’s legal team presented a strong case regarding the pain and suffering this accident had caused (and would cause) the woman. Based on that presentation, the jury decided to award the woman non-economic damages in the amount of $200,000, nearly four times the amount of economic damages.

No cap on the pain and suffering damages you can recover

Here’s more that you should know about pain and suffering damages awards in California: there is no fixed formula for calculating these damages, and there is no “cap” on what you can recover. California law’s cap on non-economic damages pertains only to medical malpractice cases. So, in your auto accident case, there is no “hard” limit on the amount of pain and suffering damages you potentially can receive.

The harm you suffer as a result of an auto accident can affect your life in a wide array of different ways. Getting truly fair and full compensation for that harm means getting more than just a payment that covers your medical bills and your lost wages. You’re entitled to be paid for the pain you’ve gone through and will go through. When it comes time to seek the recovery you deserve, make sure you have a powerful legal advocate going “to bat” for you. Look to the experienced San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos to provide that sort of diligent and effective legal advocacy on your behalf. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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    I retained Ilya Frangos of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos on a business litigation matter involving a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court. Ilya guided me through the case and helped make sure that I understood the process… He always took the time to answer all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. I would highly recommend him and this firm!


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    I was fortunate enough to have been represented and retained by this law firm for my injuries sustained by an under insured motorist. I must say Chantel Fitting and Illya Frangos went above and beyond trying to resolve my case… I would highly recommend this law firm and stop shopping around if you are looking for the best, as this is as good as it gets.

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