If you have recently suffered a serious injury in New Jersey due to someone’s negligence, you probably know that you can seek compensatory damages. But medical bills and lost wages are not the only consequences you have suffered, and you may even fear serious and long term effects of your injury.
New Jersey recognizes this and allows courts to order pain and suffering damages when appropriate. Understanding how a court decides pain and suffering damages can help you know what to anticipate.
Purpose of pain and suffering damages
New Jersey model jury charges state that you may seek compensation for any suffering that resulted from your injury — mental, physical or emotional. And that these damages should be sufficient to make you “whole” as much as possible.
You will need to argue in court that your suffering and the injury’s effect on your life were significant and that compensation is a reasonable response. You will want to offer personal testimony and corroborating evidence such as doctor’s opinions, work records or transcripts of communication.
Considerations of the court
State law does not provide exact tools for calculating pain and suffering, and New Jersey establishes restrictions on what an attorney can request. In legal terms, New Jersey does not allow lump sum demands but does allow per diem calculations. Lump sum demands are specific amounts that an attorney would request as pain and suffering compensation. Per diem calculations are quantitative measures of the pain and suffering an injury caused.
In other words, attorneys may attach a unit for measuring the impact of an injury, such as the number of hours the plaintiff was or will be in pain or days lost from shortened life expectancy, but he or she may not attach a dollar value to that measurement.
Calculation of damages
Once again, the law does not use a chart or tool to dictate how much pain and suffering damages to award. But the court will consider your age, activities, career and responsibilities. They will also consider the injuries and the seriousness of any impact — material or nonmaterial, both now and in the future.
The court will use your testimony as well as any evidence or witness testimony in making a determination, and a jury will decide what they believe to be a reasonable dollar value. If you are unsatisfied with the amount they order, you may be able to seek an appeal.