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.
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:
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.
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.
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.