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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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