There are a variety of types of damages. There are damages that relate to your body, physical injuries, and physical injuries such as injuries to disks, your spine, joints, knees, and shoulders.
Another category includes emotional injuries or mental/cognitive injuries. You may have a certain emotional reaction to an accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You could suffer from a condition as a result of the accident, which requires psychotherapy or medication, which is another category of damages. You could suffer a brain injury, which is a physical injury, but it’s a little bit different in that the injury may affect your ability to think, concentrate, sleep, or control your emotions.
Lastly, you have economic damages, or financial losses. Whether it’s the value of the car that you lost or your time away from work, or if you’re not able to work in the future and not only need the lost wages going forward. If you need to be cared for because you have catastrophic injuries, it’s something we call a life care plan. That all comes within the category of financial or economic loss. Typically, you’ll have economic loss and physical injuries. You may also have psychological injuries and brain injuries as well.
Q: Is there a separate category of damages for pain?
There are five categories within physical injuries that a judge will tell a jury to consider – pain, suffering, disability, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life. Pain is one of those five categories. You may have pain that is immediately at the time of the accident, and then you may have pain that lasts periodically or chronically or constantly from the time of the accident to the time of a trial. That is a separate time frame from which pain can be compensated. If you have chronic pain that never goes away or lasts for parts of a day, or is something that goes into the future, it’s another consideration of pain.
A jury or a judge will need to determine the value of pain. In New Jersey, attorneys are not allowed to talk about the value of a case to the jury. It violates what is called “The Golden Rule”. In New Jersey, a jury has to use its common sense and human understanding to try to arrive at a number which would fairly compensate a plaintiff for all of his/her harms and losses.
There are jury instructions called Model Jury Charges. The New Jersey jury charges give the jury the guidance necessary to calculate damages.