In many states, pain and suffering is a standard component of a car accident payout. In other states, like New York, it is only available in cases involving injuries that meet the statutory definition of “serious.” In a few states, like New Jersey, pain and suffering compensation depends on factors like the seriousness of the victim’s injuries and their insurance policy.
When available, pain and suffering usually make up a significant portion of a car accident settlement or court award. If you suffered serious injuries or believe that the insurance company is not honoring its obligations to pay your losses, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. The Bergen and Rockland County attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are here to help you and fight for your rights.
Pain and suffering in New York
New York is a no-fault car insurance state, limiting the availability of pain and suffering compensation. If you were injured in a New York accident, you need to prove that your injuries meet what is known as the “serious injury” threshold.
New York insurance law defines “serious” injuries as including:
- Those that cause more than $50,000 in damages
- Death, including the loss of a fetus
- Dismemberment or significant disfigurement
- Permanent loss or significant limitation of use of a body part, function, or system
- A non-permanent medically-determined injury that causes a qualifying disability
Suppose the injuries in an accident do not meet the above criteria to cross the “serious injury” threshold. In that case, you can still collect economic damages– including medical bills and lost wages– up to the limits of your policy. Personal injury protection coverage is available no matter who was at fault for the crash.
However, as noted above, you must meet the threshold to be eligible to sue an at-fault driver for full damages, including pain and suffering and other non-economic losses like disability and loss of consortium.
Pain and suffering in New Jersey
New Jersey law is somewhat of a hybrid between the no-fault laws of New York and liability-based states. A driver in New Jersey who purchases auto insurance has two options. They must select either “no limitation on lawsuits,” which costs more but allows the policyholder to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver no matter how serious the injury. Or they can choose “limitation on lawsuits,” which functions like New York no-fault insurance.
If you were injured in a car crash in New Jersey and you have full coverage, you are eligible to recover pain and suffering from an at-fault driver– regardless of whether your injuries are deemed serious. However, if you have a basic policy with a limitation on lawsuits, you can only file a personal injury case for full damages if your injury meets the threshold.
A “serious” injury in New Jersey is similar, but not identical, to the definition in New York. It includes:
- Death, including loss of a fetus
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Medically probable permanent injury
Like in New York, if you have a basic policy with a limited right to sue and do not have a “serious” injury, you can receive compensation for monetary losses like medical costs and lost income through your insurance policy. But if you have a serious injury, you can pursue pain and suffering and other non-economic damages from the at-fault party.
If you believe your injuries are serious, speak with a skilled car accident law firm about maximizing your pain and suffering compensation. An experienced attorney will build the evidence you need to prove the full measure of damages you are entitled to.
Contact us for a free consultation
The personal injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman serve accident victims throughout Rockland County and Bergen County. This may be your first auto accident, but it is not ours. We will fight to get you full compensation, including pain and suffering when due. Call today to schedule a free consultation.