One of the most common questions I'm asked by my New Mexico clients is, "How much is my pain and suffering worth?" My response is always that I quantify pain and suffering using the facts of each case. The amount of the medical bills does not always dictate the amount of pain and suffering. Clearly, broken bone cases usually have less medical bills but have much higher pain and suffering than soft tissue cases. Soft tissue cases usually have higher medical bills, because treatment is more intensive, while broken bones can usually be casted and left without alot of follow up care.
Based on my experience of almost 31 years of handling personal injury cases primarily in New Mexico, I believe that soft tissue cases are worth about 3 times the reasonable and necessary medical bills plus lost earnings, plus future medicals and plus permanent impairment. I believe that broken bone cases are worth about 7 times the medical bills. Arbitrators have been typically awarding 3 times the medical bills in court mandated arbitrations in Bernalillo County. Juries have been giving close to this amount as well.
It is extremely important that injured patients communicate to their health care providers all of their pain and suffering and carefully describe how the injuries have affected them. If they don't communicate pain and suffering to their health care providers, they will have a much more difficult time getting 3 times the reasonable and necessary medical bills. Health care providers won't fabricate complaints and symptoms of pain and suffering, so if there are no complaints by the injured patient they will have nothing documented by the health care provider.
Insurance company adjusters and their attorneys, judges, arbitrators and jurors will carefully read the medical records written by the health care provider. If no pain and suffering is mentioned, don't expect a large amount of pain and suffering.
A personal diary of how the injuries have affected you is also helpful. The diary can track specific instances of pain and suffering. The diary should include names of people who witnessed the discomfort and the degree of discomfort. The diary can also be read by the decision maker in determining how the injuries affected your daily life.
Caruso Law Offices is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and exclusively handles personal injury claims including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accident, bus accidents, pedestrian accidents resulting in personal injuries, brain injury, permanent injury and impairment and wrongful death. Offices are located in Albuquerque's North East Heights at 4302 Carlisle NE (Montgomery & Carlisle) and in Albuquerque's West Side at 2929 Coors NW Suite 310-E. Free one hour consultations with an attorney are available by calling 505-883-5000
Attorney Mark Caruso is a former insurance company attorney who now represents injured clients in their personal injury claims. He is a 1982 graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and is a former State Representative in the New Mexico Legislature.