What is Pain and Suffering?

man holding shoulder in bed pain
Posted: September 20, 2022

If you’ve been in an accident, you may know all too well what pain and suffering feel like. Defining it can be another issue entirely.  

“Pain and suffering” refers to physical discomfort and emotional distress “compensable as noneconomic damages,” according to the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute 

How is it possible to quantify such a nebulous concept? Economic losses in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, and repair bills can be calculated and documented precisely with evidence such as pay stubs or invoices. Calculating the crippling effect of a traumatic accident on a marriage or on the routines that brought joy to one’s life, such as Saturday-morning basketball, is much more challenging. That calculation is certainly more subjective, but courts have established certain guideposts for establishing what is reasonable compensation. These guideposts are contained in many sources, including “caselaw” and jury instructions.  

Someone injured in a car accident may find themself unable to do things that used to bring joy.  Compensation for pain and suffering takes into account changes to one’s life and routine. For example, a jury may consider the physical pain and limitations experienced, as well as emotional distress. Other factors include abilities prior to the accident and how much activities of daily life changed after the car accident. 

How Do I Know If I Have a Claim for Pain and Suffering? 

Because New York is a “no-fault insurance” state, “basic economic damages” such as lost income and medical expenses are typically covered by the no-fault insurance company. This “basic economic loss” is defined to mean medical expenses, lost wages, and other reasonable and necessary expenses, in an amount of up to $50,000. In most cases, the applicable no-fault insurance carrier—not necessarily the insurer of the at-fault motorist—will pay for these items. 

Under New York’s no-fault system, you may need to prove that you have suffered a “serious injury” to make a claim for pain and suffering and receive payment. A “serious injury” is a legal term that can be unclear and sometimes difficult to demonstrate. The term refers to personal injury that results in: 

  • Death 
  • Dismemberment 
  • Significant disfigurement 
  • A fracture 
  • Loss of a fetus 
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member 
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system 
  • A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment. 

Most, but not all, motor vehicle collisions in New York are subject to this serious injury threshold. Every case is factually sensitive and unique, depending on the specific circumstances.  

How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering? 

To prove a claim for pain and suffering, an attorney may gather evidence to establish that the injured person sustained a “serious injury,” as that term is legally defined. Evidence can include medical records and reports, expert testimony, and photo documentation. In addition to suffering a serious injury, the injured person must also show that the other motorist was negligent, and that such negligence caused or contributed to the collision and injuries.  

Call William Mattar, P.C. About Your Car Accident Injury 

Regardless of whether your injury is permanent, the car accident attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. have experience helping people obtain maximum compensation for pain and suffering. Contact us online, or call (844) 444-4444 today. 

Related Blog Articles
Our Achievements
We are proud to announce that William Mattar was named one of 2021’s Best Companies to Work for in New York. As a firm focused on helping people, we understand that this starts with how we treat each other. We’re happy to be recognized for creating such a notably positive work environment!

Start a Free Case Evaluation

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.