Non-economic Damages

New York personal injury law makes it possible for an injured person to recover financial compensation after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

In the legal field, we use the term damages to refer to the suffering and losses that a person experiences after an accident or injury.

There are two basic categories of damages: economic and non-economic. (A third category, punitive damages, is an important topic but beyond the scope of this article.)

  • Economic damages relate to losses that are financial in nature: medical treatment, hospital bills, lost income, property damages, and so on.
  • Non-economic damages relate to losses that are not necessarily financial in nature: emotional injuries, post-traumatic stress, loss of love and affection, etc.

Pain and suffering is one of the most common and important examples of non-economic damages.

Even though it isn’t necessarily a financial loss, the experience of pain is very real. Mental anguish can significantly affect your life. If someone else’s actions cause you to suffer, you deserve to be compensated for that. And while the legal system can’t magically take away your pain and suffering, it can try its best to award you a reasonable about of money as compensation.

So do insurance companies pay for pain and suffering? That question requires some explanation.

As New York personal injury attorneys serving White Plains, New York City, and beyond, we have helped to increase pain and suffering recoveries for injured people across the state. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information online. This article aims to provide a general overview of the subject in basic terms.

Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering? Generally Speaking: Yes.

Pain and suffering may be principally psychological in nature, but it is nevertheless a very real injury, and it is recognized as such under New York personal injury law. People who cause you physical injuries accompanied by emotional pain and suffering have a legal duty to pay you for those damages.

So as a general rule, yes, insurance companies do pay for pain and suffering. In fact, pain and suffering can sometimes represent the single biggest part of an insurance recovery after an accident in New York.

Unfortunately, insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid their obligation to pay for pain and suffering (or to pay as little as possible). That’s where hiring an experienced and aggressive New York personal injury lawyer comes in. We’ll talk about the difference an attorney can make later in this article.

A Caveat: Claiming Pain and Suffering for an Auto Accident in New York

So far, we have talked about insurance companies paying for pain and suffering after a personal injury accident — things like slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice incidents, dog attacks, and so on.

But special rules apply in the case of a car crash. That’s because New York is a no-fault insurance state.

After an auto accident involving ordinary cars and trucks (as opposed to large commercial trucks), an injured person’s only option is to file a claim under his or her own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy.

Unfortunately, those policies do not cover pain and suffering. So if you’re filing a no-fault insurance claim in New York, you can recover your economic damages (subject to policy limits), but you won’t be able to recover non-economic pain and suffering.

There are a few situations when the no-fault insurance rules don’t apply:

  • If you have certain serious injuries, for example, you can make a fault-based personal injury claim.
  • Likewise, if your accident involved a large commercial truck, you may be able to make a claim against the truck company’s insurance.
  • Or if a non-driver caused your accident (such as car manufacturer or a governmental entity), you may have a claim against that party directly.

When the no-fault rules don’t apply, insurance companies do pay for pain and suffering (though you will still need to show proof of your damages). Talk to a lawyer about the insurer’s obligations in your particular legal matter.

Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering After a Workplace Injury?

Special rules also apply to New York workers’ compensation claims. While your employer’s worker’s comp insurance will cover many of your economic damages, it will not provide pain and suffering benefits.

However, there are certain limited situations when an injured employee may be able to pursue a negligence-based personal injury claim against the employer outside of the workers’ comp system. Generally speaking, such a claim could include pain and suffering damages.

Likewise, injured employees may sometimes have a claim against third parties. Those claims are handled outside the workers’ comp system, meaning pain and suffering damages may be available.

An Attorney Can Fight for Insurance Companies to Pay for Pain and Suffering with Full and Fair Compensation

The formula for calculating pain and suffering compensation can vary from claim to claim (and from one insurance company to the next).

An experienced New York personal injury lawyer can fight for full and fair compensation from the insurance company, including a pain and suffering calculation that fairly values the full extent of your anguish.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with our Manhattan & White Plains Personal Injury Lawyers

Lever & Ecker, PLLC is a New York personal injury firm with years of experience in helping injured people and their families claim the financial justice they deserve.

We offer a free initial consultation to accident victims, and if we take your case, we will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money.

Time limits do apply to New York personal injury claims, so please don’t delay. To get started, call 914-288-9191 (in White Plains) or 212-766-5204 (in Manhattan), or simply contact us online.


by Lever & Ecker, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on