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Pain and Suffering Damages in Rhode Island

Even though it's the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island has a lot to offer its residents and visitors. Beautiful sandy shores and lively cities are just two of the state's many draws. Unfortunately, the Ocean State isn't free from the accidents and mishaps that happen every day across the country. If you are suffering injuries from an accident, it may be in your best interest to seek compensation for pain and suffering damages. However, determining a specific amount of damages for pain and suffering is difficult because Rhode Island has limitations and specific rules that may affect your case. Read on to learn about pain and suffering damages in Rhode Island.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Damages are the losses or harm that result from an injury to person, property, or reputation. Damages can be divided into two categories: (1) economic and (2) noneconomic. Economic damages are specific economic harm, like medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work. Noneconomic damages are intangible losses that are difficult to assign monetary values to. Pain and suffering are considered noneconomic damages, which include mental distress and impairment of ability to work.

Rhode Island has a specific rule on "pain and suffering recovery" in wrongful death actions. As a personal injury claim, a wrongful death action can be filed by another person to seek compensation for the estate or surviving family member. In order to recover pain and suffering damages, the plaintiff has to establish that the decedent did not die instantaneously and had conscious pain and suffering before dying.

Here's a list of major limitations in Rhode Island cases:

Statute of Limitations
Damages Caps
  • No caps in general
  • Except:
    • Claims against the state of Rhode Island or any political subdivision are limited to $100,000 [Section 9-31-2]
Pure Comparative Negligence Standard
  • Plaintiff is not barred from recovering damages, even if the plaintiff was partially at fault for his or her injuries
  • The amount of damages will be reduced by the proportion of the plaintiff's fault [Section 9-20-4]

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 Rhode Island personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Determining Costs of Pain and Suffering Damages

A general rule when measuring damages is to use the sum that will reasonably compensate the injured person for his or her losses. Other than that, there is no clear bright-line rule in determining the costs of pain and suffering. Because the standard is so subjective, the amount of pain and suffering damages can vary case by case. However, courts usually consider the following factors when calculating pain and suffering damages:

  • The totality of circumstances
  • The age of the injured person
  • The type of injury
  • How the injury affects the injured person

Take a look at FindLaw's Damages Estimate Worksheet to check what other factors and types of damages are considered in a civil lawsuit.

Limitations on Pain and Suffering Damages in Rhode Island

Generally, states impose their own limits on the time in which to bring a claim and the amount of damages awarded, depending on the type of your case. "Statutes of limitations" are laws that require a person to file a lawsuit within a certain period of time, in order to discourage the indefinite threat of lawsuits and to ensure that physical evidence and testimonies are fresh and reliable. Also, when fault is shared among the parties in a lawsuit, Rhode Island applies a "pure comparative negligence " standard to calculate damages.

Have Specific Questions About Pain and Suffering Damages in Rhode Island? Ask a Lawyer

It's often unpredictable how a jury or judge will award damages, especially for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. Proving noneconomic damages requires reviewing several factors and presenting them in an effective way. To find out how to calculate pain and suffering damages in your case, it's best to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney in Rhode Island.

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