Can we ask for “painand suffering” for being displaced from our home due to a fire that a technician started?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2011

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Can we ask for “painand suffering” for being displaced from our home due to a fire that a technician started?

A technician came to our home to install cable. The technician drilled into a main wire below our electrical meter and set our house on fire. The company is taking care of all repair costs, living expenses, losses and incidentals, but I’d like to know about our being inconvenienced and displaced.

Asked on August 22, 2011 Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, there is almost certainly no recovery for inconvenience--or as you put it, "pain and suffering"--in a case like this. Pain and suffering itself only refers to recovery for PHYSICAL pain and suffering, or physical disfigurement or disability, resulting not from property damage but from personal injury. Sometimes damages for non-physical loss--whether it be recovery for infliction of emotional harm, or punative damages--are available without a physical injury to a person, but then only in cases of deliberately wrongful or reckless behavior--with "reckless" in this case meaning essentially behavior done with a depraved indifference to the consequences. Mere carelessless or negligence, no matter how significant its consequences, will not support these awards, and other than that, there is no recovery for purely mental injuries, like inconvenience or feelings of displacement.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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