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What are pain and suffering damages?

After the drunk driver plowed into the back of your car on the California freeway, your physical condition has been tenuous, at best. You plan to file a lawsuit to make sure the negligent driver's insurance pays you for all your damages, including your lost wages, your medical bills and the replacement of your car, which was destroyed by the collision. It may not seem like that is enough, though, considering how much the driver put you through.

Putting a dollar amount on the way you feel may not seem possible. However, as FindLaw explains, pain and suffering is actually a legal term, and a judge often awards this type of damages to people who have been seriously injured in car accidents. The factors he or she will consider before arriving at an amount include the following:

  • How serious your injury is
  • How long your recovery is expected to take
  • Whether you have sustained a permanent disability
  • Your emotional trauma and distress
  • Scarring or disfigurement and how it may affect your life

You have to file your lawsuit within California's statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the collision. There is not a limit to the amount the judge or jury could award you in a car accident case, but you may be ineligible for pain and suffering damages if the officer who responded to the call charged you with a DUI and you are convicted. If you do not have car insurance, or you are underinsured, it will also affect your eligibility for a pain and suffering award unless the other driver receives a DUI conviction. 

This general overview of pain and suffering is provided for educational purposes, but it should not replace the advice of an attorney.

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