How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in New Mexico?
By harmonsonlaw on March 10th, 2021 in
If you have been harmed by someone else’s negligent actions, then you probably have a legal case to recover compensation. In addition to the actual costs related to the injury like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, you may also receive compensation for “pain and suffering.”
Finding an attorney who has expertise in pain and suffering judgments in Las Cruces or southern New Mexico can be difficult, but when you contact the highly experienced personal injury attorneys at the Harmonson Law Firm, they will provide you with the legal advice and representation you need to successfully manage your lawsuit. Pain and suffering is defined as physical or mental injury. Physical pain and suffering include the unpleasant aspects of an injury, including:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
- Brain injury
- Sprained muscles
Not only does physical pain and suffering include physical injuries that you have suffered, but it may also include pain and discomfort that is likely to occur in the future.
Although mental pain and suffering may not be as apparent as physical, it can be just as or even more disruptive to your life. Mental pain and suffering may manifest as one or more of the following conditions:
- Psychological trauma
- Cognitive dysfunction related to brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Emotional pain may continue for months or years, requiring long-term and expensive therapy to resolve. If you develop mental pain and suffering after an accident due to someone’s negligence, Harmonson Law Firm, one of Las Cruces’ premier personal injury firms, is here to help get you the compensation you deserve. Because pain and suffering can differ from person to person, there is no firm legal standard for it. The potential for disproportionate jury awards has prompted some states to place limits on pain and suffering damages, but New Mexico, fortunately, is not one of these jurisdictions. In most cases, New Mexico juries are allowed to award as much as they deem just to compensate for pain and suffering.
However, there are still some factors that may limit how much you receive for pain and suffering in New Mexico. Since a 1981 New Mexico Supreme Court case, New Mexico personal injury lawsuits have been adjudicated under the “pure comparative fault” principle. Pure comparative fault dictates that your compensation is limited by the percentage of fault that the plaintiff was responsible for. For example, if the jury determines that the party at fault was only 50 percent responsible for your injury, then the award is halved.
There is one notable exception to unlimited pain and suffering awards—medical malpractice.
New Mexico law limits awards in medical malpractice cases against qualified healthcare providers to $600,000, which includes both economic (verifiable costs) and non-economic (including pain and suffering) damages. This amount does not include medical expenses, which the healthcare provider is responsible for.
Outside of these exceptions, New Mexico juries are free to award as much as they want for your pain and suffering. In general, juries must rely on the instructions they receive from the judge presiding over the case. There is no set formula for determining the damages for pain and suffering, so juries must estimate the seriousness of the injury and its likely effects. Because so much of the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit is dependent on the nature of the court and the jury, you want to hire an attorney who is knowledgeable about the law, the courts of New Mexico, and human nature. With Harmonson Law Firm, you get all of this and a proven track record of success. Call today to schedule your first consultation.