First, it's important to understand what is “Pecuniary loss.”

Pecuniary loss is the economic loss suffered as a result of someone else causing you injury. It is part of the compensation that you can seek to reclaim in a lawsuit here in New York.

When you have been injured as a result of someone else's carelessness, the law in New York allows you to bring a lawsuit seeking to obtain financial compensation. The reality is that we cannot put you together again. It's like the old Humpty Dumpty story. “All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

The analogy is appropriate. You can receive all the medical care to try and reconstruct the way you were before you are injury. Yet many accidents and incidents are permanent. Despite corrective treatments, in many instances where you will be left with life-long residual injury or disability. Our system of justice and our sense of doing what is right requires be wrongdoer  to repay the debt that they have incurred because of what they did.

In that light, we must then look to the different elements of how you get compensated for your injuries.

The most well-known elements of compensation are:
  1. Pain and suffering. This applies from the time of your incident until the time your case is resolved. More commonly, this is known as past pain and suffering. There is also a component of compensation known as future pain and suffering. This would apply from the time your case is resolved until the foreseeable future, assuming of course that your injuries are lifelong and disabling.
  2. Critics argue that the amount an injured victim receives for their pain and the suffering are variable and cannot be accurately tallied. However, they also point out that everyone's injuries affect them differently. That often accounts for wide variations in the type of compensation different people receive despite having similar injuries.
  3. Economic damages. These are quantifiable and definable. These include specific medical expenses you have incurred directly as a result of the wrongdoing. They may include funeral expenses, health insurance expenses, nursing services, surgical services and more. This element of compensation will always include lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of your injuries. What if you are unable to work into the immediate future? That becomes an element of compensation. Not only do you have quantifiable economic expenses that can often be justified with bills and receipts, but your future lost wages can often be calculated based upon your work history.
How do you know how much pecuniary loss there is your particular case?
The reality is that you need to have a thorough evaluation and investigation of your particular matter to know exactly the answer to that question.
Are there instances where there is no pecuniary loss in a lawsuit?
The answer is “Yes.” For example, if someone was not working or was elderly and died as a result of carelessness, it is possible that there will be no pecuniary loss to the family. What that means is that there is no financial loss the family as a result of their loved one's death. Maybe grandpa was in his 90s and simply not working. Maybe had no source of income and Medicare paid for all of his expenses. In that instance, the only element of damages that might be available would be the pain and the suffering he endured from the time the wrongdoing of until the time of his death.

Pecuniary loss is just one element of damages.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer