What exactly is “pain and suffering”?
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? It is important to understand how insurance companies and the law define and calculate pain and suffering so you can be certain that you are awarded appropriate compensation.
Definition of Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” can be split into two categories: physical and emotional/mental.
Physical pain and suffering refers to the claimant’s injuries sustained as a result of 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 refers 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 instances of emotional pain and suffering include PTSD, depression, mood swings, and sexual dysfunction.
How the courts calculate “pain and suffering”
If a personal injury case goes to trial, a jury will be responsible for determining how much to award a plaintiff for their pain and suffering. Generally, the judge advises the jury to use their best judgment when deciding on an amount to award because there is no set rulebook or rubric regarding the calculation. The jury will usually take into consideration the plaintiff’s credibility, whether expert testimony support’s the plaintiff’s claims, whether 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,” meaning total medical bills and lost wages, by a number between 1.5 and 4 to calculate how much to award for pain and suffering.
Contact a New York Injury Attorney
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have experienced pain and suffering as a result of 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 reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation today.