Until it happens to you, it’s hard to imagine the physical and emotional toll a sudden injury can take. Much of the battle can be continually trying to grasp how one incident, in some cases lasting only a split second, can dominate a life forever.
The laws of the state of New York acknowledges this reality by allowing awards to those suffering due to somebody else’s wrongdoing. In New York, as in many states, pain and suffering awards are dryly known as “non-economic damages.”
The dollar value of incalculable damage
This summer, a Los Angeles jury awarded a columnist pain and suffering damages for what the court found to be a newspaper’s age discrimination against him. The jury awarded him more than $15 million in non-economic damages.
Damage awards seek to put dollar amounts on losses in the quality of your experience of yourself and the world. Given the challenging intangibles of making these decisions, developing the clearest case possible with unassailable facts and reasoning is essential. Damage awards mean excellent legal counsel.
A judge or jury is free to consider any factor that seems important to your case, such as the degree and type of injury, your age and how long you’ll be expected to suffer, the amount of physical pain and the sources of your emotional suffering. It’s hard to quantify, but once it’s decided you’re owed damages, a calculation must be done.
Factoring in “pure comparative fault”
New York is among the states that uses a pure comparative fault calculation. Although one person is sometimes completely at fault for an accident or injury, commonly both people share some fault for what happened. In some states, this means the question of damages has a yes-or-no answer.
In New York, the percentage of fault you share is determined, and your award is found by reducing the damages you sufferend by your percentage of fault. If you’re considered to have experienced a $1 million loss and were 25% at fault, your award will likely be $750,000.
Although some provisions exist to prevent truly outrageous damage awards, unlike most states New York places no limits on damage awards.