Many of the articles on this blog mention pain and suffering as a factor in winning compensation in personal injury cases. But how does the law define it? Understanding how insurance companies and the law define and calculate pain and suffering is important to ensure you are awarded appropriate compensation.
Definition of Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” can be divided into physical and emotional/mental categories.
Physical pain and suffering refer to the claimant’s injuries sustained due to the injury. This includes discomfort and pain immediately after the accident to the time the claim was filed, plus whatever physical pain and negative health effects the claimant anticipates experiencing in the future as a result of the accident.
Mental pain and suffering refer to the negative emotional effects the claimant experienced as a by-product of their physical pain. This could be embarrassment, shock, loss of interest in life, anxiety, or anger. Like physical pain and suffering, the mental definition also includes any mental and emotional anguish the claimant anticipates experiencing in the future as a direct side effect of the accident. Some more serious emotional pain and suffering include PTSD, depression, mood swings, and sexual dysfunction.
How the courts calculate pain and suffering
A jury will be responsible for determining how much to award a plaintiff if a personal injury case goes to trial. Generally, the judge advises the jury to use their best judgment when deciding on an amount to award. This is because there is no set rulebook or rubric regarding the calculation. The jury will usually consider the plaintiff’s credibility. Whether expert testimony supports the plaintiff’s claims. If the plaintiff has a criminal record, and whether they believe the plaintiff exaggerated their injuries.
A “multiplier” is sometimes used to calculate the amount, but not always. The multiplier multiplies the plaintiff’s “special damages.” To calculate how much to award, those include total medical bills and lost wages, by a number between 1.5 and 4.
Contact a New York Injury Attorney
You may be entitled to compensation if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. If you have experienced pain and suffering due to that injury, the experienced injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP can assist you with understanding your rights and building a case. Call our office at (212) 779-0057 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.