How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

When you’re injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligent actions, you may expect to receive compensation when you file a lawsuit.

However, calculating a fair amount of compensation for your injuries can be difficult, especially when it comes to factors like pain and suffering.

In this post, we explain how pain and suffering damages are calculated in New Mexico, as well as other laws that can affect how much compensation you can receive.

If you have further questions about seeking compensation in a lawsuit, the team of attorneys at Whitener Law Firm can help. Call (505) 883-7877 to schedule a free consultation, or contact our office in Albuquerque by filling out a form online.

What Are “Pain and Suffering” Damages?

Pain and suffering is meant to compensate a person who has endured emotional distress, anguish or pain following an accident or harm from another’s actions.

How can someone show that they’ve experienced pain and suffering?

The plaintiff, or person who filed the lawsuit, may explain that they’ve suffered from anxiety, depression, insomnia, loss of enjoyment of life, reputational damage or poor mental health following the incident that caused their injuries.

How are Damage Amounts Assessed?

Pain and suffering falls under a category called “non-economic” damages, or general damages.

Non-economic damages cover non-monetary losses. In comparison, economic damages compensate a person for losses like medical expenses, loss of income, or property damage.

Because economic damages are based on monetary losses, they’re much easier to calculate than non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

It can be difficult to award the “right” amount of money to someone suffering from emotional anguish or mental suffering. When a jury or judge evaluates pain and suffering damages, they may ask questions such as:

  • How much has the injured party’s lifestyle been altered or will be altered in the future?
  • How has their pain or injuries affected their lifestyle, relationships, quality of sleep, or other factors?
  • How will their pain or injuries limit or impact the person long-term?

There are no fixed standards a judge or jury uses to assess pain and suffering. Jurors are asked to use their judgment to decide a reasonable amount of money for compensation.

Are There Limits On Damages In New Mexico?

Some states limit, or “cap,” damages in some or all personal injury claims. States can choose to cap economic damages, non-economic damages, or both.

In New Mexico, there are no damage caps placed on non-economic damages like pain and suffering, so a jury can award as much as they deem appropriate. However, there is a cap applied to medical malpractice cases.

Medical malpractice lawsuits

In New Mexico, there is a $600,000 total cap for medical malpractice lawsuits. This cap applies to the total amount of damages, both economic and non-economic, that an injured party can recover in a lawsuit.

This $600,000 does not include medical bills or rehabilitative care. It also doesn’t apply to punitive damages, which are damages meant to punish the defendant for their harmful actions.

Pure comparative fault

New Mexico, being a pure comparative fault state, can also reduce the damages you are awarded in a case. In a pure comparative fault state, damages are reduced in proportion to your degree of fault for an accident or incident.

For example, let’s say you get into an accident with a driver who is speeding. You may think they’re 100 percent at fault.

But what if you had a burnt-out taillight and the other driver didn’t notice you were braking? What if you were making an illegal turn at a stoplight at the time of the accident?  In these situations and others like them, you may share fault with the other driver.

You may sue the speeding driver for damages of $250,000. The jury finds that your own actions led to the accident by 20 percent, and the speeding driver was at fault for 80 percent. Therefore, you’d only recover $200,000 ($50,000 is $250,000 reduced by 20 percent).

However, this is just an example of pure comparative fault. Your situation’s details matter and every case is different. The only way to get an accurate idea of fault and how much compensation you might be eligible for is to contact our law firm.

Let Whitener Law Firm Help

If you or a loved one has been injured because of another person’s actions, contact Whitener Law Firm to find out how much compensation you deserve. We can help you file an injury claim.

Get started by scheduling a free consultation with one of our injury attorneys online or call our Albuquerque office at (505) 883-7877. You can also follow the Whitener Law Firm Facebook page.