Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case

If another person or party causes your injury in New Jersey, you may be eligible for financial compensation for more than just your physical injuries and medical bills. You may also be entitled to compensation for the emotional distress tied to the incident, known as noneconomic damages in personal injury law. The amount available for your emotional distress will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.

What Are Noneconomic Damages?

Damages is the legal term for the financial compensation given to a victim, or plaintiff, in a personal injury lawsuit. The two types of compensable damages available are economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are the financial losses associated with an accident or injury, such as medical bills and losses of income. Noneconomic damages refer to intangible losses, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of consortium, inconvenience, stress, and lost quality of life.

How Can You Prove Emotional Distress?

There is no hard evidence available to prove noneconomic damages. Unlike economic losses, there are no bills, receipts or pay stubs that can prove emotional distress or mental anguish. Instead, you or your personal injury lawyer will need to prove that you suffered emotional distress or other intangible losses from the accident based on other forms of evidence, such as an injury journal, records from a psychologist, witness statements and expert testimony.

How Are Noneconomic Damages Calculated?

Noneconomic damages are calculated very differently than economic damages in a personal injury case. While economic damages are calculated using the hard numbers associated with the accident, such as property damage repair estimates and past and future medical expenses, bills and receipts cannot be used to calculate emotional distress. Instead, the amount awarded to a plaintiff in noneconomic damages is based on the unique ways in which the accident and injury impacted the victim.

There are two common equations for calculating noneconomic damages in a personal injury case in New Jersey:

  • The Multiplier Method – The Multiplier Method chooses a multiplier that is equivalent to the plaintiff’s amount of pain and suffering connected to the accident, typically from one to five. Then, the plaintiff’s total economic damage award is multiplied by the chosen multiplier to calculate a reasonable amount in noneconomic damages.
  • The Per Diem Method – The Per Diem Method also uses multiplication, but it multiplies the number of days that the plaintiff will foreseeably experience pain and suffering by a daily value (often equivalent to his or her daily wage). This equation is often more suitable for temporary injuries with recovery dates.

The courts in New Jersey can use either or neither of these methods to calculate a noneconomic damage award. It is up to the court’s discretion how much a plaintiff receives for emotional distress, if any. These decisions are based on factors such as the severity of the injury, whether the victim has a permanent disability, and the extent to which the injury has impacted his or her lifestyle.

Are There Limits for Noneconomic Damages?

Some states impose limits, or maximums, on the amount of compensation available for noneconomic damages such as emotional distress. These limits are called damage caps. In New Jersey, however, there are no limits or caps on noneconomic damages in any type of case. This means there is no maximum on how much you can receive in pain and suffering damages after an accident in New Jersey.

With assistance from a personal injury attorney, you can fight for an award that matches what you’ve suffered. An attorney representing you during an injury lawsuit can increase the odds of collecting financial compensation for intangible losses that are often difficult to prove. Your lawyer can go up against an insurance company in and out of the courtroom to fight for fair noneconomic damages for your emotional distress. Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. to learn more during a free consultation.