The issue of pain and suffering in a personal injury case is separate from the compensation awarded to cover an injured party’s medical costs. There is an actual monetary amount reflected in medical bills, but compensating an injured party for the pain and suffering endured goes beyond adding up medical invoices. It could require a civil court jury to decide the amount that would reasonably compensate an injured person for physical and emotional suffering.
When Would a Jury Decide To Award Financial Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
In New York State, pain and suffering is a two-part issue. To decide on the injured party’s compensation, the court could consider both physical and emotional pain. Although an insurance settlement may cover economic losses such as medical expenses and damaged property, physical and emotional pain fall into the category of non-economic damages.
Examples of physical pain
In a personal injury civil action, the court may consider awarding compensation for injury-related pain that could include the following:
- Back and neck injuries
- Burns and soft tissue harm
- Broken bones, fractures and internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Nerve damage and paralysis
Pain that could fall into the category of “temporary soreness” typically fails to meet the standard required for a pain and suffering award. If the pain resulting from an injury is not chronic or recurring, the court may disregard the issue.
Examples of emotional pain
In addition to considering an injured party’s physical pain, a New York court may also consider injury-related emotional pain that could include one or more of the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, or “PTSD”
- Depression or anxiety
- Cognitive impairment
- Loss of the pre-injury quality of life
- Loss of emotional or physical intimacy
To qualify for compensation, a claim of emotional pain must have a direct link to the injury caused by the other party.
Do All States Have Similar Requirements to Initiate a Personal Injury Pain and Suffering Suit?
State governments have set varying requirements for initiating a personal injury suit. Before you proceed with a legal action for pain and suffering in New York, for example, you will need to show that the impact of the harm lasted at least 90 days or caused a permanent disability or impairment. You will also need to provide evidence of your pain and suffering and how it resulted from a serious injury caused by another party.
How you could help prove the extent of your pain and suffering
Your personal testimony could carry a great deal of weight in convincing a jury that your pain and suffering justifies the amount of compensation requested. Family members, friends and coworkers could also testify regarding how the injury you suffered altered your life. “Before and after” testimony from those who know you well could help convey to the jury the full extent of your pain and suffering.
Medical records from both doctors and mental health professionals could show the severity of both your physical and emotional pain. Maintaining a journal or notebook of how you felt in the days and months following the accident could also prove helpful in solidifying the connection between your accident and the pain you endured.
Overall, an experienced personal injury lawyer could tie all of your evidence together into a compelling presentation that could help convince a jury to decide on a pain and suffering award. The amount of a civil case verdict could prove significantly greater than what an insurance company settlement might offer.
How Are Pain and Suffering Compensation Amounts Calculated?
Insurance companies and personal injury attorneys generally approach compensation calculations differently. While an insurance company may use the lowest possible scale to calculate a pain and suffering settlement, a personal injury lawyer will seek the maximum amount. Basically, there are two methods that could calculate a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering: the multiplier method and the per diem approach.
The multiplier method
The multiplier method calculates the amount of a pain and suffering award by adding up the total of the economic damages and then multiplying that amount by a number within the range of 1.5 and 5.0. In cases involving an injury that drastically altered the harmed individual’s life, the calculation relies on the higher multipliers. This is the method generally used to determine a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering.
The per diem approach
Although used infrequently, the per diem approach assigns a specific dollar amount to each day that the injured party remained in pain or under a doctor’s care. The “multiplier” in this approach is the number of days spanning the date of the injury and a release from medical care. The approach does not, however, adequately address the issue of a permanent disability or impairment.
What Accident Types Could Lead to a Pain and Suffering Personal Injury Claim?
Although every accident-related injury could involve unique circumstances, one of the primary considerations in suing for pain and suffering is that another party contributed to your accident. The “other party” that contributed to the accident could be a private individual, business or government agency.
There is a wide range of accident types that either another individual or a business could have contributed to, such as:
- Car, truck and motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Slip, trip and fall accidents on unsafe premises
- Burns or exposure to toxic substances caused by defective products
- Animal attacks caused by an owner’s negligence
New York’s pure comparative negligence system
In a state that relies on the pure comparative negligence system, such as New York, you could still obtain personal injury compensation even if you were partially responsible for the accident. The court will, however, determine the percentage of your responsibility and reduce the amount of your award accordingly. If, for example, your compensation amounted to $4,000,000 and the court found you contributed to your accident by 10%, the court could reduce the award by $400,000.
The defendant party in your personal injury claim may attempt to saddle you with as much blame as possible. Based on the pure comparative negligence system, this tactic could help lower the other party’s monetary liability. The defendant may, for example, claim that the pain you suffered from your slip and fall injuries was your fault because you didn’t look where you were going. In some cases, such as an accident that results in a back injury, the “pre-existing condition” strategy might be used to counter your pain and suffering claim.
How Could an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Obtain Compensation for My Pain and Suffering?
An attorney experienced in personal injury claims will apply his or her skills to review the details of your case and calculate a pain and suffering award that’s in your best interests. Your attorney’s familiarity with the applicable state procedural requirements will help ensure that your filings are in order and no deadlines get missed. The investigative process can also play a vital role in your claim; a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will have the resources to gather evidence and prepare witness statements.
When you choose Cellino Law to handle your pain and suffering claim, you’ll have a trusted New York personal injury firm on your side. With a track record of more than 65 years fighting for the rights of injured clients, you can stay focused on your recovery while our team pushes your claim forward. Contact us now to schedule a no-fee consultation and discover what we can do for you.
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