How Much Is Awarded for Pain and Suffering?

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Serious injuries from an accident can leave you with lasting physical and emotional pain that can impact you for life.

When you consider filing a lawsuit after an accident, you likely have questions about the types of compensation you can add to your case. How much is awarded for pain and suffering? How do you compute that value? Are physical and emotional suffering considered one type of injury? At the JLF Law Firm in Southern California, our Riverside personal injury attorneys can answer all of your questions.

How Much Is Awarded for Pain and Suffering in California?

Just as personal injury compensation depends greatly on the severity of your injuries, so too does the amount you can claim for pain and suffering. As our attorneys consider your case, they will gauge whether your pain and suffering cause you mild, average, or extreme physical and emotional distress. The level of your suffering typically determines the value of your California personal injury case.

What Injuries Fall Under Pain and Suffering Compensation?

Many different types of injuries may fall under the definition of pain and suffering. Depending on the nature of your accident and possible future treatment, our attorneys can seek compensation for a variety of damages. These include the following:

Permanent scarring

If your accident caused severe scarring, this could lead to both physical trauma from the disfigurement and emotional pain from anger and anxiety. Scars may also elicit flashbacks of the accident, triggering additional anxiety.

Loss of mobility

A serious fall or a car accident could cause impact trauma affecting the neck and spine. These injuries could impact your mobility, including leading to partial or complete paralysis.


After an accident, the limitations you may face and the loss of hobbies and sports you once enjoyed could lead to severe depression. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, sleeping too much, and loss of interest in talking to friends and loved ones.

The total value of your personal injury usually hinges on the severity of your injuries, their permanence, and the degree of your pain.

How Can Your Attorneys Help Prove the Value of Your Pain and Suffering?

Unlike estimating the value of a car or home, putting a dollar amount on pain and suffering is not a simple process.

However, our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to investigate your case and meet the required burden of proof.

Medical reports

Your medical records are one of the cornerstones of proving the extent of pain and suffering. X-rays and scans that highlight your physical injuries along with a doctor’s report of the degree of your pain can support the severity of your physical pain.

Mental health records

If your emotional suffering over the accident results in the need for a therapist or psychiatrist, keeping records of the cost of appointments and new medications to treat that depression and anxiety adds value to your compensation. Ask your mental health care provider for letters verifying that your issues stem directly from your accident.

If your injuries keep you in the hospital or limit your mobility, our attorneys can collect appropriate documents and other information supporting your claim of pain and suffering..


In a personal injury case, witnesses can verify your physical and emotional well-being after the accident. Our attorneys can question both individuals who witnessed the trauma you suffered and those who cared for you afterward.

Are Pain and Suffering Damages Taxable in California?

California tax laws state that compensation for pain and suffering is not taxable. This also includes emotional distress, such as:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety
  • Nightmares and flashbacks to the accident
  • Fear of riding in a car or entering a business where the accident occurred

Any physical and emotional damages you collect are usually not taxable by the state. If you receive compensation for lost wages and other economic losses, California taxes only that portion of your total award.

What Is the Average Award for Pain and Suffering?

Because every personal injury case is unique, it is difficult to calculate typical awards for pain and suffering.

Generally, proven moderate pain and suffering awards can reach up to $100,000 in California courts. Our attorneys work with you at each stage of the case, from investigation to the trial, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Are Punitive Damages the Same as Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering compensation and punitive damages differ in several ways. The former compensates you for physical and emotional pain and the cost of treatment. A judge or jury decides the amount of the latter, which punishes the negligent party and depends upon the degree of the negligence involved.

Compensatory damages

Pain and suffering awards fall under this category, which also includes compensation for lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. These types of damages have many subcategories, and our attorneys will review each as they build your case.

Punitive damages

These damages punish the defendant if the jury or judge decides that the individual responsible for the accident acted with extreme recklessness or negligence in a way that directly led to the incident. For example, if the defendant used drugs before getting behind the wheel and caused an accident that ended with you severely injured, the court may award you punitive damages along with compensatory damages. These awards are to discourage the guilty party from repeating future negligent acts. Punitive awards are subject to taxes.

Bring Us Your Personal Injury Case Today

Do you have questions about your Southern California personal injury case, such as how much is awarded for pain and suffering? Contact our attorneys at The JLF Law Firm and put your case and trust in our hands. Your first consultation is free, so reach out for assistance today.

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.