What are “pain and suffering” damages?

When people are injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, New York law provides that the injured may seek compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. These damages can include relatively concrete financial losses, such as medical expenses or wages that were lost while the injured person was unable to return to work. They may also include somewhat harder to define damages for the victim’s distress. These damages are known as pain and suffering.

“Pain and suffering” is a legal term referring to both physical pain and mental anguish.

Recovering compensation for something like medical expenses after a car accident is relatively straightforward: The injured person can present his or her medical bills to the court, along with, perhaps, an estimate of the total amount he or she expects to require to pay for future medical bills connected with the same injuries. Compensation for pain and suffering is not so straightforward. To place a dollar amount on the amount of pain and suffering the injured person has experienced and likely will experience in the future, the court has to consider several factors. These include the nature of the injury, the severity of the pain, the certainty that the victim will continue to experience pain in the future and the estimate of how long this will go on.

New Yorkers who have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence often face huge medical expenses and years of recovery. This can mean an enormous drain on their finances. It’s important for the injured to recover all the compensation they can. It can be tempting for an injured person to take the first offer that comes along with the promise of compensating them for their damages, but experienced attorneys can help them evaluate their damages and make sure they recover all that they deserve.


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