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New York’s Legal Definition of “Pain and Suffering” After a Car Accident

When you are injured in a car accident, there are different types of damages you can recover in court. That typically includes reimbursement for medical bills, reimbursement for lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. Many people who have been injured and are considering a lawsuit should understand how exactly New York defines “pain and suffering,” and how you prove it in court. If you have been injured in a car accident in New York City, talk to the Queens personal injury attorneys at Sullivan and Galleshaw.

What Are “Pain and Suffering Damages”?

When you are injured in a car accident, you usually have an option to take the party who harmed you to court to get compensation. The harms you received in the accident and during your recovery are called “damages,” and so is the money you are awarded in court.

Damages are usually split into two different types: “economic damages” and “noneconomic damages.” Economic damages are also called “compensatory damages,” and are awarded by courts to compensate you for financial harms. This means when you spend money on medical bills to treat your injuries or lose paychecks because you have been unable to work, you suffer economic harms as a result of your injuries. These expenses are reimbursed in court under the category of “economic damages.”

“Noneconomic damages,” on the other hand, are used to pay for things that money cannot replace. Feelings, deceased loved ones, and physical pain do not have a price tag or receipt to prove how much they are worth. Still, courts work to reimburse people for their losses, and the only way they can do that is with money. This means you can often receive money in court to compensate you for the death of a loved one, your emotional distress, or your physical pain and mental suffering.

“Pain and suffering” is often linked together as one phrase, but does include two component parts: the physical pain and the mental suffering. Courts usually award higher damages for worse injuries and physical pain. Suffering is a mental phenomenon, and refers to how you feel and react to the pain. The emotions associated with pain and the hardship of dealing with injuries are included under “suffering.”

Pain and suffering damages are also available when you sue for a loved one’s death. If your loved one experienced pain and suffering before death, you may be able to seek compensation for their experiences on top of the compensation for their loss.

Calculating Car Accident Pain and Suffering

In some states, there is a limit to how much you can receive in noneconomic damages, or for pain and suffering damages specifically. These are usually called “caps.” In New York, there is absolutely no limit on what you can receive for your pain and suffering. This means you can receive whatever amount is fair to compensate you.

Calculating pain and suffering is quite difficult, because it is very personal and works on a case-by-case basis. In a trial, a jury is responsible for deciding how much to award for pain and suffering, not the judge. If your case is settled before trial, your attorney and the other party’s attorneys can debate what amount is fair for you.

Since pain and suffering is such a personal thing, proving your experience to others often means providing concrete evidence. Keeping a journal of your pain helps document your experiences so you can explain them to a jury. Your doctor can also testify and provide medical records to prove what your injuries are. The more severe an injury is, the higher your damages usually are.

When you suffer a severe injury, pain might not be your main concern. Things like traumatic brain injuries may not be especially painful, since your brain does not have the nerve endings to experience pain. Instead, the way it effects your life, your mood, your personality, and your ability to think may award high damages for the immense suffering. Alternatively, even a simple injury like a broken bone or whiplash injuries can be quite painful. Some injuries may cause pain and discomfort for years to come, meaning higher compenastion for the pain itself.

If you were in a car accident, it is very important to take your case to a Manhattan car accident attorney. Insurance payments usually do not account for pain and suffering, and may skip these damages entirely. You may need to take your case to court in order to get the full compensation, including pain and suffering, that you might be entitled to. Settling before you talk to an attorney may mean accepting far lower amounts than your case is worth.

Queens, NY Pain and Suffering Lawyers

If you were injured in a car accident, or you lost a loved one to a car accident, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney today. In New York City, the car accident lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw work to help injured victims get compensation and get their lives back on track. Call (718) 843-0300 today for a free consultation.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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