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What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Posted by James Hunt | Jun 01, 2021

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering damages, also known as general damages and non-economic damages, are types of civil compensation for the excruciating physical pain and mental suffering you experienced as a result of an injury caused by another party's negligent actions. Not all personal injury matters are eligible for pain and suffering damages in New York and New Jersey due to insurance laws. You only have a right to receive this type of compensation if you can prove that someone else was careless or negligent in causing your injury.

You should speak with personal injury lawyers if you have questions about pain and suffering damages related to your case. However, the article below will help you understand the types of pain and suffering damages available and how to prove them.

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering (non-economic damages) is an umbrella legal term that refers to the various ways you suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally as a result of an injury. These damages are harder to prove since they are not readily observable. For example, economic damages may include medical bills and lost income – objective, clear-cut dollar amounts that are easily calculated and proven. Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, however, are more subjective in nature, and therefore more difficult to predict or forecast. 

However, an attorney can help you navigate this aspect of your case.

There are numerous types of pain and suffering damages as described below:

Type 1. Physical Pain

Physical pain compensation is paid for the discomfort and painful sensations you experienced from an injury. If any part of your body was injured, you can file a claim for physical pain damages. It is also worth noting that physical pain damages are demanded in addition to your medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Moreover, an award for pain may be broken down into separate components, such as (1) past pain and discomfort resulting from an injury, and (2) projected future pain that such an injury will cause to you in the time ahead.  Typically, a medical doctor, or testifying expert witness, would be needed to explain why you would continue to suffer pain in the future.

Type 2. Mental or Emotional Suffering

Mental suffering, also known as mental anguish or emotional distress, is a civil award that compensates you for the emotional and cognitive losses you suffered. Suffering a physical injury is a traumatic event that can leave emotional scars on a person long after their physical injuries heal. New York and New Jersey laws protect your rights if someone else caused these emotional scars.

Examples of mental suffering damages include:

  • Anger
  • Anguish
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Embarrassment
  • Fright
  • Grief
  • Humiliation
  • Nervousness
  • Shock
  • Terror

The above-referenced reactions are reasonable responses to a traumatic event. If someone else triggered the event that leads to your accident, pursue mental suffering damages as part of your compensation claim. Ensure that you document your mental health over the days, weeks, and months following your personal injury accident. In most cases, medical evidence may be required to prove such a claim. For instance, you may seek therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist or therapist.  In that case, your psychologist may need to explain how your injury has negatively impacted you emotionally and mentally.

Type 3. Lost Enjoyment of Life

Lost enjoyment of life is the loss you suffer from not returning to your hobbies and activities as usual. For example, suppose you are an avid skier who suffered from major bone fractures in a motorcycle accident that prevents you from skiing again. In that case, you can hold the negligent party accountable for your lost enjoyment of life. This is why it is important to keep a journal or diary during your treatment of injuries. You can list the types of everyday, common activities you can no longer complete or enjoy, as compared to the type of lifestyle and activities you enjoyed before your injuries.

Type 4. Loss of Companionship

Loss of companionship, also known as lost companionship or loss of consortium (also a “per quod” claim), is reserved for the family members of an injury victim. These damages  compensate spouses for being deprived of marriage-related benefits that a spouse received or provided prior to an injury.  For example, loss of companionship or consortium claims can include damages for loss of a loving, intimate relationship, care, affection, or the burden the other spouse takes on in caring for the injured spouse.

Type 5. Loss of Sexual Function

While it may be embarrassing to discuss, the simple fact is that sexual function is as innate to humans as eating or breathing. If the accident caused you to lose your ability to perform sexually, you can hold the liable party accountable. Your claim may cite loss of pleasure, arousal, and desire that you once enjoyed before your accident.

Type 6. Scarring, Disfigurement, or Disability

Personal injury matters, like slip and falls or motorcycle crashes, are typically severe enough to leave a permanent scar, mark, or disfigurement. You can receive compensation for scarring and disfigurement if you suffered an injury that has caused a  permanent alteration of your physical appearance, including temporary and permanent scarring.  This would include scarring from the injury itself, if it required stitches to correct, or even a surgical scar resulting from a surgical procedure to repair an internal injury.  Depending on the circumstances, the loss or amputation of a body part may justify a significant damages award.  Similarly, if your injury causes a permanent disability, you might be entitled to compensation as well.

Type 7. Inconvenience and Ordeal

Finally, pain and suffering can manifest in the mere fact that you had to endure the barrage of treatments, doctors' visits, workdays off, filing insurance paperwork, and much more. This ordeal is an incredible inconvenience to you, and you should receive an award for having to endure it as well.

How to Prove Pain and Suffering Damages

How to Prove Pain and Suffering Damages

Proving pain and suffering requires you to obtain and preserve admissible evidence to submit in court at trial. Your special damages, or out-of-pocket medical costs and lost wages, are more straightforward to prove since they generally leave an obvious paper trail and can be mathematically proven and calculated. Pain and suffering damages require you to build a theory and a case that supports your allegations.

Types of legal evidence you will need to prove pain and suffering damages include the following:

  • Doctors' reports and notes
  • Hospital and surgery medical records
  • Eyewitness testimony from family and friends
  • Psychological reports and notes
  • Your personal journal
  • Your personal testimony about your injuries and how it affects your life
  • Proof of prescription drugs taken
  • Police and accident reports
  • Other types of pain and suffering damages evidence

Obtaining sufficient evidence is just one element of how to prove pain and suffering damages. It must also comply with your local rules of evidence. While 95 percent of personal injury cases settle before going to trial, you must prepare your case as though you are headed to trial if you want the insurer to take your case seriously.

Special Note About Pain and Suffering Journals

If you decide that hiring a personal injury lawyer in New York or New Jersey is suitable for your case, we may ask you to maintain a journal of your day-to-day life. You can describe your pain levels, emotions, thoughts, and inconveniences related to your accident. This information is admissible in court and will provide a first-person account of the trauma you face regularly.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

One of the most legally demanding aspects of your case is sufficiently and accurately proving pain and suffering damages. You could be leaving substantial compensation on the table if you are not experienced in this area. For this reason, injury victims hire an experienced personal injury attorney to fight their legal battles on their behalf and obtain the compensation they deserve.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

Learn more about your legal options in New York or New Jersey by calling Hunt & Associates, LLC. Plan a Free, No-Obligation Case Evaluation with us now by calling (866) 456-HUNT or message us directly online.

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About the Author

James Hunt

Jim Hunt, the founder of Hunt & Associates, is a former Big Law attorney who trained at one of the biggest and most prestigious law firms in the world. He now uses that unique experience and training to help his injured clients fight for justice against “the big guys,” i...


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