Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in Albuquerque, New Mexico?

One of the most common questions I'm asked by clients is, "How much is my pain and suffering worth under New Mexico law?" 

By:  Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Albuquerque, NM)
My response is always that I quantify pain and suffering using the facts of each case. I have been an attorney for 31 years.  During that time I have exclusively handled personal injury and wrongful death claims.  I worked as an insurance company attorney for a part of that time.  So, I will give you my own analysis. 

The purpose of compensation for pain and suffering is to compensate you for what you have been thru because of the accident that caused your injuries. 

This not only includes the physical pain, but also includes the psychological effects, the stress, the time at the physician's office, the effect on your lifestyle and hobbies, and basically how the accident has affected you as a person. 

The amount of the medical bills does not always dictate the amount of pain and suffering. 

Clearly, victims with broken ribs or bones 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. Also, not much can be done to treat broken ribs.
Based on my experience of almost 30 years of handling personal injury cases, I believe that the pain and suffering for soft tissue cases are worth about 3 times the reasonable and necessary medical bills.  In addition, there should be compensation for  lost earnings,  future medicals and permanent impairment.  I believe that broken bone cases are worth about 7  times the medical bills. 

Arbitrators in Albuquerque have been typically awarding 3 times the medical bills in court mandated arbitrations in Bernalillo County.  Juries are much more inpradictable.

 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. Picture it this way.  You need to give the doctor the ammunition for your gun.  They need you to feed them the information so they can document your complaints. 

It is more difficult for men to communicate pain and suffering to their doctor.

The reason is that most men find it more difficult to complain about their pain.  Men are macho, and it may be considered a sign of weakness to complain of pain.  Nevertheless, men must report the pain to their doctor to get full value for their pain and suffering.
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 an dates 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.
 Attorney Mark Caruso is a former insurance company attorney who now represents injured clients in their personal injury and wrongful death claims.    Caruso Law Offices has two locations in Albuquerque to serve its clients--Northeast Heights and Westside. Mr. Caruso will also meet you at your home, work or hospital on weekends and after-hours.

For a FREE consultation you can contact Mark Caruso at the Northeast Heights Office (Montgomery & Carlisle) at 505-883-5000 or his Westside Office (Coors NW and I-40) at 505-369-1361.

Your consultation will be with Mark Caruso, not a legal assistant or paralegal.  He will give you a confidential and honest evaluation of your claim, discuss medical treatment and explain Caruso Law Offices'    discounted 29% contingency attorney fee on all pesonal injury and wrongful death claims.


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