How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

By Greg Kohn

If you’re a New Jersey resident injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. 

Assigning value to pain and suffering after an accident is a complicated process. Pain and suffering damages are regarded as non-economic damages that cannot be measured by accident-related expenses.

So, how are pain and suffering damages calculated? New Jersey personal injury attorneys explain that pain and suffering damages are assessed by the impact and extent to which the mental and physical loss or injury affects the victim.

Demonstrating the level of your suffering following an accident is critical, and working with a skilled, seasoned personal injury lawyer offers the best chance at maximizing the compensatory award.  

How Does New Jersey Define Pain and Suffering After an Accident?

Pain and suffering are considered in two distinct contexts: physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering. 

Physical pain and suffering refer to both immediate and long-term physical pain. Accident victims may seek compensation for the pain experienced at the time of injury and for resulting derivative pain associated with the injury. 

Mental pain and suffering account for mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by accident victims. Metal anguish and emotional distress can manifest in many forms: 

  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable, emotional outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Sexual dysfunction

When filing a claim for physical and mental pain and suffering, your attorney will need to prove that your physical and mental anguish directly resulted from the negligent party’s actions. Further, your attorney will seek to establish a far-reaching, negative impact of pain and suffering on your quality of life. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a New Jersey Personal Injury Claim

New Jersey does not limit compensatory damages for pain and suffering. However, determining a value for pain and suffering is a complex and subjective process. Establishing the worth of your pain and suffering hinges on your attorney’s ability to craft, substantiate, and argue your case for settlement or at trial.

While every claim is unique, there are some common factors your attorney will consider when developing your case:

  • Type and severity of the injury
  • Prognosis of recovery
  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent disfigurement or scarring 
  • Cost of treatment 
  • Inability to work or perform routine activities
  • Loss of consortium
  • Diminished quality of life

You must provide your attorney with as much information as possible regarding your injury’s effects on your mental health, physical activities, relationships, and quality of life. Detailed medical records, psychiatric evaluations, and journals are vital to supporting your claim and maximizing your award. Corroborating statements from work associates, friends, and relatives are also helpful.

Who Decides Pain and Suffering?

Generally, attorneys attempt to reach a fair settlement with the negligent party’s insurance company, avoiding costly and protracted court battles. Insurance companies rely on in-house formulas to help them compute what would be a fair offer to settle the case. However, most insurance companies will try to diminish the extent of your suffering to avoid paying what you are due. 

At trial, a jury will listen to both parties’ arguments, assessing damages in the context of the common factors mentioned above as well as any elements unique to your case. New Jersey law prohibits lawyers from suggesting a compensatory value for your pain and suffering at trial. The determination of financial damages will be made solely by the jury. 

Reach Out to a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Today

When seeking damages for pain and suffering, you need the help of a New Jersey personal injury attorney skilled in both negotiation and litigation. 

The subjectiveness of pain and suffering valuation can make proving your case feel like a daunting task. Work with an attorney you trust to support and defend your right to pain and suffering compensation. Contact our office today.

Contact our New Jersey law office today to speak with a highly-qualified personal injury attorney about your case. We will see you through the entire claims process and litigation if necessary, putting our expertise to work for you. 

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.