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Examples of Pain and Suffering Recoveries

Personal injury lawsuits end with a final dollar amount, so it’s easy to forget that this number typically contains distinct legal categories. This distinction reflects the twofold impact that a personal injury victim can experience: They may be harmed economically through medical bills or lost wages, but their quality of life may also be affected through physical or emotional pain. The latter, defined as pain and suffering, can justify significant financial compensation.

Pain and suffering is an umbrella term, referring to many specific kinds of mental and physical anguish. Consider the wide-reaching effects of a catastrophic event: it might impede one’s daily functioning, relationships, mood, and overall ability to lead a happy life.

While some states enforce caps on pain and suffering settlements, New York fortunately does not.

Our clients received compensatory damages for pain and suffering in a wide range of cases outlined here, including serious injuries, wrongful death, car accidents, and construction accidents.

$110 Million Verdict for Paralyzed Cyclist

Injuries caused by negligence are often eligible for pain and suffering compensation. In 2016, for example, Block O’Toole & Murphy began to seek justice for a cyclist who tragically became a paraplegic after workers dropped a railroad tie onto his spine from an above-ground subway line.

With a life-altering injury, our client endured a high degree of pain and suffering across many of its definitions.

  • Physical pain: The plaintiff’s thoracic spine was irreparably damaged, resulting in intense and long-lasting back pain. This involved both nerve and musculoskeletal pain, requiring daily medication.
  • Disfigurement: Prior to the accident, Plaintiff was an able-bodied 23-year-old, with much of his identity ingrained in the use of his legs. The psychological ramifications of irreversible bodily disfigurement were massive.
  • Physical impairment: Plaintiff could no longer do vital day-to-day tasks like showering without assistance, nor do many of his preferred activities like cycling.
  • Sexual dysfunction: Paralyzed from the waist down, Plaintiff was rendered impotent, a condition that wreaked havoc on his interpersonal happiness and outlook.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Plaintiff’s overall capacity to enjoy his own life was severely diminished after losing much of his freedom and autonomy.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Plaintiff was unfairly destined a lifetime of wheelchair use, incontinence, increased day-to-day accidents caused by spasms, and medical complications such as infections.
  • Embarrassment, shame, and humiliation: Adding to the indignities of incontinence and impotence, Plaintiff’s injury caused uncontrollable leg spasms, a frequent source of unwanted attention. He also grapples with the lack of privacy that comes with full-time care.
  • Trauma: As a natural response to the ordeal, Plaintiff experienced nightmares about his accident. Research suggests that trauma rewires the brain, increasing its stress responses to everyday stimuli.
  • Shock: Plaintiff’s devastating prognosis was exacerbated by the sudden and unexpected nature of his situation.
  • Anxiety: Plaintiff struggled with increased feelings of nervousness following the accident.
  • Mental suffering: The short-term, persistent, and lifelong mental anguish of an injury as serious as Plaintiff’s is staggering.

Citing this combination of factors to the jury, Block O’Toole & Murphy partners Scott Occhiogrosso and Daniel P. O’Toole secured our client $60 million for future pain and suffering (covering 49 years into the future), and $9 million for past pain and suffering (covering the three years between the accident and trial). Combined with past and future medical expenses, Plaintiff received a record-breaking verdict of $110,174,972.38.

The pain and suffering lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are devoted to attaining maximum justice for our clients. We have outpaced every other law firm in New York since 2012 by delivering the most results that exceed $1 million. Our experienced attorneys have successfully handled a wide range of pain and suffering cases. To speak with an attorney today, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form. We serve New York and New Jersey.

$15 Million Settlement for Wrongful Death of HVAC Technician

The grave injustice of a wrongful death can never be undone, but family members of the deceased can receive compensation for pain and suffering. This varies by state; New York does not offer a right to compensation solely for the emotional distress of losing a loved one (a policy which The Grieving Families Act appropriately sought to change). However, family members can pursue damages for pain and suffering in other forms.

In December 2012, for instance, an HVAC technician was tragically crushed to death after a 14-ton chiller unit broke from its chains, pinning him against a wall. (Accidents like this are all too common in the construction industry, where dropped loads from trucks or cranes pose a dire hazard.)

The worker was only thirty-eight years old, leaving behind a widow and five children. Block O’Toole & Murphy fought for these plaintiffs to recover economic damages for the wrongful death such as lost income, as well as damages for the pain and suffering experienced by their husband and father.

  • Fear of Impending Death: Footage from a surveillance camera showed the decedent undergoing horrific trauma in his final moments. As the chiller unit fell, he tried to escape its path, fully cognizant of the danger he faced. This constituted three seconds of terror, a tragedy which the defense would have attempted to deny at trial.
  • Pain and Suffering After Impact: The decedent suffered for several minutes while trapped under the 28,450-pound load. As testimony from his expert pathologist would have stated at trial, he was still conscious for tremendous physical and emotional pain. This formed the legal basis for most of his total pain and suffering compensation ($1,786,219).

By strongly advocating for the family, including its economic losses, Block O’Toole & Murphy partners Daniel P. O’Toole, David L. Scher, and Frederick C. Aranki secured our clients a settlement of $15 million. This was the highest wrongful death settlement in New York State for 2020.

$32.7 Million Verdict for Injured Pedestrian

Victims of serious car accidents can sue for pain and suffering. One of our most notable pain and suffering cases involved a Vietnam veteran heavily injured by a reckless driver. A 60-year-old father of two, the plaintiff had stopped at an intersection to help other drivers after witnessing a collision. He stayed while the police arrived, still offering his support.

The defendant’s car then careened through the police barricades, hitting Plaintiff with enough force to lift him 30 feet in the air. The defendant tried fleeing the scene; she had been high on painkillers and other drugs.

Block O’Toole & Murphy pursued damages for Plaintiff’s pain and suffering on many grounds.

  • Physical pain: Plaintiff’s painful injuries included skull and facial fractures, a fractured hip, and collapsed lungs. He also underwent many surgeries involving post-op pain—an emergency craniotomy, and separate placements of a tracheostomy tube, gastronomy tube, and IVC filter.
  • Disfigurement: Plaintiff’s extensive brain damage transformed him from an animated, dynamic member of his family and community into a man who struggled to walk, talk, or feed himself.
  • Physical impairment: Plaintiff was burdened with wheelchair use, drastically impaired speaking abilities, and a loss of bladder and bowel control.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Plaintiff could no longer enjoy many activities that made his life meaningful, such as being a socially engaged father, husband, nephew, and leader of his local Veterans organization.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Both Plaintiff and his wife were forced to devote an immense amount of time and effort into his recovery and permanent care.
  • Embarrassment, shame, and humiliation: As Plaintiff’s gift for communication had been a great source of pride, his newfound disability was particularly mortifying.
  • Mental suffering: While displaying some heroic positivity, Plaintiff was all too aware of his grim circumstances.

With these elements successfully argued in court, Block O’Toole & Murphy partners Stephen J. Murphy and Daniel P. O’Toole persuaded the jury to award our client $7.3 million for past pain and suffering (starting at the accident and preceding the trial), and $11.7 million for future pain and suffering. This comprised over half of his $32.7 million verdict, which broke a record as Long Island’s largest non-medical malpractice verdict in history.

Some other examples of pain and suffering awards include:

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