Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering?
Anyone who has been seriously injured through someone else’s negligence understands pain and suffering. They also understand that covering doctor and hospital bills associated with the injuries and recovering money for wages lost does not begin to fully compensate them for their losses. Fortunately, New York injury victims are entitled to sue for pain and suffering, and New York is one of the states that has not “capped” the monetary value of these damages.
In lawsuits for injuries caused by the negligence of others, an injured party can recover two types of damages, economic and non-economic. Economic damages include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and any concrete damages paid out or missed out on by the injured party because of his or her injuries. Non-economic damages include intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, anxiety, depression, and other similar damages. Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, usually account for a substantial portion of settlements or jury awards in serious personal injury cases.
Who Can Claim Pain and Suffering Damages?
Not all injured victims are entitled to pursue damages for pain and suffering under New York law. In car accident cases, due to the state’s no-fault insurance law, to recover pain and suffering damages, victims must have sustained a serious injury in one of the following categories:
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of use of an organ or member of the body
- Permanent loss of use of a body function, system, organ, or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body system or function
- A non-permanent injury or impairment that prevents the injured victim from performing all of the material acts that make up that person’s customary daily activities for a period of not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the injury
Families of deceased victims in wrongful death cases may be entitled to recover damages for the pain and suffering experienced by their deceased loved ones before death. Pain and suffering damages may also be awarded for past and future physical pain to victims of medical malpractice.
How is the Amount of Pain and Suffering Damages Determined?
Non-economic losses such as pain as suffering are more difficult to calculate than economic losses, and amounts awarded can vary widely from case to case. If damages are paid in an out-of-court settlement, the amount of pain and suffering compensation will be negotiated by your attorney and agreed upon between the parties, along with the other damages claimed.
If your case goes to trial, a jury will determine the amount awarded for pain and suffering. There is no set mathematical formula under law to determine pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering damages are generally based on past, present and future physical pain and emotional stress caused by the injuries. Juries may consider the type of injury, the age of the injured party, and the long-term impact of the injuries.
Under New York’s comparative negligence statute, damages may be reduced to the degree that the court determines the injured party was at fault for the accident that caused the injuries.
Binghamton personal injury attorney Scott C. Gottlieb handles all types of personal injury cases and has recovered millions of dollars in damages for his clients. If you have been injured through the negligence of another, contact us for a free consultation.
- New York State Department of Financial Services: Article 51 of the New York Insurance Law aka “The No-Fault Law”