While the main goal of any Mercer County personal injury suit is to recover compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, the greatest portion of recoveries in any personal injury case often comes from what is known as “pain and suffering”. Pain and suffering refers to the emotional and physical hardships suffered as a result of the injury in question and the affects that injury has had on the victim’s life, whether that injury was caused in a car accident, construction accident, motorcycle accident, ladder and scaffolding accident, or any other kind of accident.
Assigning a numerical value to your pain and suffering, and proving the full extent of your pain and suffering in a personal injury claim, is extremely difficult. The best way to ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve in any personal injury claim is to seek the legal counsel of an experienced Princeton personal injury attorney. Using the guidelines and information outlined below, you and your Princeton personal injury attorney can succesfully prove and recover compensation for the pain and suffering experienced as a result of your injury.
The Two Types of Pain and Suffering in a Mercer County Personal Injury Case
Pain and suffering is typically classified into two different categories, namely, physical and mental.
- Physical pain and suffering refers to any injuries that impair motor abilities and cause physical discomfort. This includes the short-term and long term affects of the injury in question from the point it was sustained. Broken bones, strained muscles, surgeries and rehabilitation all lead to physical pain and suffering.
- Mental pain and suffering refers to the emotional damage caused by your injury. Any trauma, anguish, distress, shock, anxiety, fear, or humiliation experienced as a result of your injuries all qualify as mental pain and suffering. In the case of extremely severe injuries, an individual may also experience PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), loss of appetite, insomnia, depression, and more.
Keep in mind that the two are not mutually exclusive, an individual can experience both physical and mental pain and suffering as a result of an injury. For example, for someone involved in a car accident who strains their back, they may be unable to work for a period of time, and may even risk losing their job as a result. This person’s physical pain and suffering is evident, but they may also experience stress over the possibility of losing their job and livelihood, anger, and depression, all of which can be compensated financially in a Mercer County personal injury lawsuit by pain and suffering damages.
Personal Injury Compensation Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey personal injury laws dictate exactly how much pain and suffering damages may be sought in any personal injury case. According to NJ SA:15-5.14, pain and suffering damages are capped at five (5) times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, or $350,000, whichever amount is greater. So, if your accident caused $250,000 of damages to you in medical expenses and lost income, you may seek up to $1,250,000 in punitive (pain and suffering) damages (five times the amount of compensatory damages in this case).
Clearly, pain and suffering represents an extremely large amount of possible damages in a personal injury case, and is one of the main reasons many individuals pursue a personal injury claim rather than a workers’ compensation claim when presented with the option (workers’ compensation claims do not allow for punitive damages to be sought, only compensatory damages).
It is important for individuals pursuing a personal injury claim to remember that pain and suffering damages fall under the same comparative negligence laws that compensatory damages do. Comparative negligence means that for accidents where the injured party is considered partially responsible, their compensation is reduced by the same percentage of fault they are determined to have. For example, an individual who was not wearing a seat-belt and was injured in a car accident with a reckless driver may be determined to be 25% responsible for the injuries they suffered. So, if they are awarded $500,000 in punitive damages (pain and suffering), they would actually receive 25% less, or $375,000 total.
As you can see, even small differences in percentages of fault can greatly impact a personal injury case and the damages recovered. For this reason and may more, it is critical that any individual considering a personal injury claim seek experienced and effective Mercer County personal injury representation. A good personal injury attorney will help mitigate comparative negligence determinations, make sure the injured party’s physical and mental pain and suffering is properly calculated and represented, and protect the injured party from being taken advantage of by insurance companies whose only responsibility is their own bottom-line.
Contact a Princeton Personal Injury Lawyer Today
At The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, we have extensive experience successfully resolving personal injury claims of all kinds for clients across Princeton, Hamilton, Trenton, Lawrence, and the greater Mercer County area.
Our personal injury attorneys believe in keeping our clients informed and involved throughout the entire personal injury process, and that by doing so, we can best secure the compensation that our clients need and deserve.