How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in New Mexico?
You have likely heard the term “pain and suffering” used on television, but may not understand how it plays a role in New Mexico personal injury cases. If you are injured in an accident stemming from another’s negligence toward you, receiving this type of award provides for the mental and emotional harm you sustained. You may also receive this type of award based on mental and emotional harm you are able to prove that you will experience in the future which was caused by the accident.
Pain and suffering is difficult to measure since it typically involves factors that are hard to observe. However, you can still prove them using evidence that speaks to your emotional injuries, such as expert testimony and medical documentation.
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A New Mexico personal injury lawyer will help you evaluate the value of your pain and suffering claim in addition to your medical costs, lost work wages, and more. While the information I am presenting below is helpful, you should always reach out to me for a free Strategy Session if you need specific legal advice.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Suing for physical pain and suffering falls under a civil demand for “non-economic” damages from the insurance company responsible for paying your out-of-pocket medical costs.
Let’s take a look at each definition separately for better clarity:
- Non-economic means non-financial, and;
- Damages are the losses the accident caused
In other words, non-economic damages are the non-financial losses you experienced, resulting from an accident that someone else negligently caused.
There are a few kinds of non-economic damages that your personal injury lawyer may demand, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, which includes:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Worsening prior injuries (Aggravation of Preexisting Condition)
- And more
Physical pain and suffering damages compensate you for the agony your body endured as well as any issues involving chronic or life-long pain. Suing for mental anguish will provide for the detrimental affects you experienced from the emotional distress you experienced, as described above.
How Much Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering?
When an insurance company or civil jury is calculating non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, they consider numerous factors. If you hire me to represent your claim, I will also evaluate your case to determine if you are receiving a fair settlement offer.
These considerations include:
- How your daily routine will be negatively affected or limited
- If your injuries impact your professional and personal relationships
- Whether the non-economic damages cause sleep disruptions
- How you will be impacted over the long run
If your case goes to civil trial (and they rarely do), there is no set standard that determines the amount of what your pain and suffering damages should be. Instead, they are left to the judgment of the justice system to decide a reasonable number.
Is There a Statutory Limit on the Amount of Non-Economic damages I Can Claim?
Due to the vagueness of standards regarding non-economic damages, there is concern that the system is set-up for abuse. Many states set limits on the amount of money you can recover from pain and suffering.
New Mexico is not one of them. Our state does not place a damage cap—or limit—on your settlement or civil court award.
Exceptions to the Rule
One exception to this rule are claims under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, which are specific claims for negligence against a governmental entity or its employees. These claims are capped at $750,000. This is a general rule and each case must be assessed on a case by case basis.
Another exclusion to this rule relates to medical malpractice cases. There is a $600,000 cap that applies to all damages awarded, including pain and suffering. However, laws do not count medical care as part of the limit. This limit applies under certain circumstances and, once again, must be reviewed by your lawyer on a case by case basis.
How Does Fault Affect My Non-Economic Damages Award?
New Mexico is what we call a pure comparative fault or pure comparative negligence state. Basically, our laws state that you can only receive a settlement of the civil court award that is equal to the amount of fault of the defendant by a percentage.
For example, say you were in a car accident that a distracted driver caused. However, at the time, law enforcement discovers that you were speeding by 10 miles per hour. If an insurance company or jury believes that you were 15 percent at fault for speeding, then you can only receive 85 percent of your pain and suffering award.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Get a Pain and Suffering Settlement?
Insurance companies will say nearly anything to get your claim off the books and paid out for as little as possible. After all, it is how they turn a profit.
Without a New Mexico personal injury lawyer on your side, how do you fairly appraise the offer you received? Do not leave your health and financial future in the hands of an insurance adjuster.
You do not have to settle for less unnecessarily. Connect with Grano Law Offices, P.C. for a FREE STRATEGY SESSION by calling 505-587-8649.
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