Surgeries, medications, and physical therapies can often result in pain and suffering. Here’s how to sue a doctor for pain and suffering.

What Are Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are legal terms for emotional and physical injuries a victim incurs. When pain and suffering are directly tied to medical malpractice, they would be defined as the injury or injuries that are a direct result of a doctor or other provider’s negligence.

It is important to note that an individual is unable to sue for just pain and suffering; medical malpractice is required to file a lawsuit.

The following would qualify as pain and suffering in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Physical Pain
  • Decreased movement
  • Permanent disability or injury
  • Loss of Bodily Function
  • Mental and Emotional Stress, Anguish, Trauma
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Anxiety or Depression
  • Decreased Quality of Life

Related: Civil vs Criminal Law: The Difference

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Compensation for financial damages is assessed based on medical bills, treatment costs, medications costs, etc.

Another method for calculating the compensation for pain and suffering is Per Diem. The per diem method calculates a specific dollar value that the victim will receive each day as they recover from their injuries. This method tends to provide the victim with their current and future loss of wages. The dollar amount is multiplied by the number of days it will take the victim to recover from the injury.

A third method for calculating compensation for pain and suffering is the Multiplier Method. This method multiplies the plaintiff’s medical bills by a number between 1.5 to 5, which reflects the severity of the injuries.

Evidence of Pain and Suffering

In order to bring a successful lawsuit against a doctor, reliable evidence must be presented by the victim of the medical malpractice. This evidence would include doctor’s notes, medical examinations, and even documentation from psychologists and therapists. Simply stating that you are in pain or are suffering will not suffice.

Related: How to Sue a Hospital in California

Traits of a Successful Pain and Suffering Lawsuit

There are three primary traits that a successful pain and suffering lawsuit will entail proving that the:

  • patient was under the care of the defendant
  • defendant deviated from providing proper care to the plaintiff/victim
  • deviation resulted in harm to the plaintiff/victim

Pain and suffering lawsuits based on medical malpractice are dealt with in civil cases. Medical malpractice can result in a criminal trial dependent on the doctor’s incentives and the severity of the injuries.

Related: Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing the Wrong Medication?


Are there any limits on the amount of money I can recover?

California Civil Code 3333.2 puts a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice.

Is it possible to get punitive damages?

A plaintiff can obtain punitive damages if they are able to prove that a defendant committed malice, oppression, or fraud.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a pain and suffering lawsuit in California?

  • Three years after the date of injury
  • One year after the plaintiff discovers the injury if the three-year limitation has passed

For minors:

  • Three years from the alleged date of the injury/wrongful act
  • If the minor was less than six years old at the time of the injury, the minor’s eighth birthday

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If you or a loved one is seeking to sue a doctor for pain and suffering, get your free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys in California today!