Under New Jersey law, there are three aspects of a claim for pain and suffering in an injury lawsuit, i.e., a work injury lawsuit:
- disability or impairment,
- loss of enjoyment of life, and
- physical or mental pain.
Injured workers in New Jersey are often confused about how to get compensated for pain and suffering after a serious work accident. Workers’ compensation claims do not provide any compensation for pain and suffering. Rather, separate claims can be made against non-employer parties for negligence in causing a work accident. Read more about pain and suffering claims in New Jersey work accident cases.
Disability or Impairment
In a work injury lawsuit, an injured worker (the plaintiff) can seek compensation for any disability or impairment that resulted from an accident or injuries. New Jersey law is well-established in this point. Disability or impairment means any condition or symptom that worsens, weakens or otherwise causes the loss of physical or mental faculties, health or ability to participate in usual activities.
For example, an injured worker files a lawsuit against a third party contractor for an explosion at a factory. As a result of the accident, the worker loses 90% of sight in both eyes. The loss of sight would be a disability or impairment that may be compensated through a successful lawsuit.
Visit the law library for more legal info on injured workers’ legal rights in New Jersey.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
New Jersey law also permits a plaintiff to recover for the loss of enjoyment of life. This phrase basically means the loss of ability to pursue your normal life activities, which includes home/family, work and hobbies. How did the injuries affect or deprive the person of their usual and customary activities?
Using the example above, let’s say that injured worker was not only unable to return to work, but also was unable to drive. In addition, he is no longer able to coach his son’s sports teams or enjoy his usual hobbies, including fishing, hiking, etc. Basically, the injuries have resulted in a severe loss of the enjoyment of life.
Physical & Mental Pain
The last aspect of a claim for pain and suffering is compensation for physical and mental pain or anguish, discomfort and distress that occurs as a result of an injury. In general, the more serious the injuries, the greater the pain and suffering. An injured worker who sustained a broken wrist that didn’t require surgery would suffer less pain and suffering than someone who sustained a broken wrist that required multiple surgeries with the placement of screws and plates.
No Formula to Determine Pain & Suffering in New Jersey
Like in Pennsylvania, there is no formula to determine a pain and suffering award in New Jersey. Rather, a jury or fact finder will look at the plaintiff’s age, job, family responsibilities and usual life activities to determine the proper amount to award. There is no formula or schedule.
In addition, an award for pain and suffering in a work injury case will depend heavily on the medical evidence which includes medical records, diagnostic images and doctor’s notes/letters. Essentially, the injuries and medical treatment will provide a baseline. Other factors to consider include:
- the nature of the injuries,
- how long they took to heal or resolve,
- any physical disfigurement,
- any disabilities (temporary or permanent), and
- any residual symptoms.
Future Pain & Suffering
New Jersey law clearly allows the plaintiff in a work injury lawsuit to seek compensation for future pain and suffering. The plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for the consequences of all injuries that can reasonably be expected to continue into the future. A jury will be instructed to consider the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff from the date of the accident up to the present time and even into the future.
A Spouse’s Loss of Consortium Claim
Oftentimes, when a work accident results in serious injuries, the physical and mental suffering will have a negative impact on the injured plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse. Fortunately, New Jersey law allows a spouse to file a derivative claim known as a loss of consortium claim. The uninjured spouse has a right to be compensated for having to assume more of the marital responsibilities after the accident. In addition, the loss of consortium claim recognizes that the uninjured spouse should be compensated for negative changes in the relationship, i.e., loss of companionship, comfort and marital relations.
Like pain and suffering damages claims, loss of consortium claims usually depend on the extent of the physical injuries. The more serious the injuries, the greater the impact on the uninjured spouse. For example, the spouse of an injured worker who becomes paralyzed by a work accident has a greater loss of consortium claim than the spouse of a worker whose leg was broken.
New Jersey Work Injury Law Firm – Why Choose Us?
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