Pain and suffering damages in Pennsylvania and New Jersey compensate injured motorists for the anguish, trauma, and suffering they experienced because of injuries from a car accident. However, not all accident victims are eligible to file a pain and suffering claim.
To recover pain and suffering damages in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you must either have an auto policy that allows you to address these damages, or you must have suffered serious injuries. Work with Cordisco & Saile LLC to review the terms of your policy to see if you are eligible; we will help you prove that your injuries are serious, and therefore meet the required criteria, if necessary.
Ask yourself these two questions to determine if you are eligible. Then set up a consultation with us to discuss your case further.
1. Does your auto policy give you unlimited right to sue?
Pennsylvania and New Jersey each require motorists to choose between two types of auto policies. They require drivers choose a limited or unlimited right to sue for pain and suffering.
In Pennsylvania, this is called limited tort and full tort coverage. Those who choose limited tort can only sue for pain and suffering if they have serious injuries while those with full tort have an unlimited right to sue.
In New Jersey, motorists purchase a standard or basic auto policy. Motorists who choose a basic auto policy have a limited right to sue for pain and suffering only if you suffer serious injuries. Those who choose a standard car insurance policy can further decide whether they will have a limited or unlimited right to sue.
2. Did I suffer serious injuries in my auto accident?
If you have full tort coverage in Pennsylvania or if you choose the standard policy and an unlimited right to sue in New Jersey, then you do not have to prove your injuries are serious in order to file a claim for pain and suffering.
However, if you have limited tort in Pennsylvania or choose the basic policy or a limited right to sue on the standard policy in New Jersey, then you must.
So what do the states consider serious injuries?
Pennsylvania considers a few factors to determine if injuries are serious, such as the body function impaired by the injury, extent of the injury, its length, and other relevant factors.
New Jersey defines serious injuries as those listed below.
- Loss of a body part
- Displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury (any injury from which you are not expected to heal completely, even with medical treatment)
Note: there are exceptions to limited right to sue policies that may allow you to sue for pain and suffering even if you did not suffer serious injuries. We will help you decide if you qualify.
How to Prove You Suffered Serious Injuries
You will need the right evidence to establish that you experienced serious injuries in the car accident and therefore qualify for pain and suffering damages. We will help you get this evidence. In the meantime, you can maintain a pain journal, noting the following.
- The pain and anguish you experience
- Humiliation that you suffered after the accident
- How your injuries affect your everyday life
- How your injuries affect your ability to live a positive and productive life
You may also present medical evidence to establish the effects of the injury on your health, which we will help you collect. We may even secure testimony from expert witnesses to demonstrate how severe your injuries are.
The value of your pain and suffering damages will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries. So make sure you work with a lawyer to fully investigate the case and establish the short- and long-term effects of your injuries.
Does choosing limited right to sue in my policy affect other damages I can recover?
No. The limited right to sue option does not affect your eligibility for compensation for other types of damages. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages. You may still file a claim against an at-fault driver to recover these damages. Further, you may rely on your own PIP or medical payments coverage for injury-related expenses.