Unlike some other states, New York law does not set a hard cap on awards for an injury victim’s pain and suffering, which cannot be objectively measured. Instead, a New York verdict is excessive or inadequate if it deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation. New York courts look to prior awards for comparable injuries, sustained on appeal, for guidance. In 90 percent of all cases where a plaintiff’s lawyer requests $20 million or more, the verdict is at least double the state’s “de facto cap” for pain and suffering damages of $10 million. In almost two-thirds of all cases, the plaintiff receives at least $30 million.
These are two examples of record-setting New York pain and suffering awards:
A woman, who was hit with a shopping cart thrown off a mall’s parking garage by two teenagers, sued the retailers, security firm, and property owners. The jury awarded her $45 million award Jury Awards $45 Million to Woman Struck by Falling Shopping Cart – The New York Times (nytimes.com), including $35 million in noneconomic damages. The trial court in Hedges v. Planned Security Services, reduced the noneconomic damage award in half to $17.5 million.
The jury awarded $ 85.75 million for pain and suffering in addition to $13.5 million for medical care and lost wages to a New York worker who fell while assembling a booth for an event at Jones Beach. The trial court lowered the pain and suffering award in Perez v. Live Nation, to $40.6 million.