Pennsylvania residents and tourists enjoy the Commonwealth's relaxed lifestyle and charming landscapes. Unfortunately, residents of the Keystone State are also involved in car accidents, slip and fall injuries, and product defect accidents every day. Whether someone intended to cause you injuries or not, you should know that pain and suffering damages may be available if you are experiencing some kind of pain due to your accident. Read on to discover how intangible losses, like pain and suffering, are considered under Pennsylvania laws.
How Do Pain and Suffering Damages Work?
Damages are generally divided into two different categories: (1) economic and (2) noneconomic. Economic damages (also called special damages) are related to a specific economic harm, such as medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work. Noneconomic damages (also called general damages), on the other hand, are intangible losses that are the natural result of a wrongful act and are typically difficult to assign monetary values to. Pennsylvania defines "noneconomic loss" as pain and suffering and other nonmonetary losses.
Measuring Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages are especially hard to calculate since two different people can be injured in the exact same way and experience different levels of pain. Generally, you must have evidence, like medical testimony, to prove your pain and suffering resulted from the accident you are claiming. Then, a jury or a judge will determine the amount of pain and suffering damages by considering the following: your age, the type of injury, and how the injury affects you.
Review FindLaw's Damage Estimate Worksheet to ensure you don't overlook other types of damages.
Limitations on Recovering Damages in Pennsylvania
While pain and suffering damages may be available for both past and future pain, you should know that there are certain limitations in recovering noneconomic damages depending on your case.
Claims are time sensitive. Under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, you have two years to bring a personal injury and property claim.
Also, "damages caps" are laws that limit the amount of damages you can recover. While some states impose damages caps on compensatory damages, Pennsylvania does not impose caps on damages for personal injury, except in claims against the government (see the chart below).
Statute of Limitations Damages Caps
- No cap in most cases;
- $250,000 against the Commonwealth [Section 42-8528(b)]
- $500,000 for claims against the local government [Section 42-8553(b)]
- In claims against the local government, "pain and suffering" only available in the following instances: (1) death, or (2) cases of permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or permanent dismemberment where the medical and dental expenses exceed $1,500
Modified Comparative Negligence Standard
- You cannot recover damages if you were more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries [Section 42-7102]
"No-fault" system (in car accident cases)
- Limits your ability to sue other drivers if you have a no-fault insurance
Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly passed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. You may want to contact a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Get a Claim Evaluation from an Experienced Attorney
Due to the lack of objective standards and multiple limitations, the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer can make a significant difference in the amount of compensation you recover. If you have lingering pain or mental distress, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. To find out about your legal options, get a claim evaluation from an attorney in your area.
Contact a qualified attorney.