If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, it’s important to understand what your legal options are. You’re likely facing medical bills and possibly property damage, but you might also be struggling with less quantifiable consequences.
These less visible losses are known as non-economic damages. Understanding more about them and how they differ from economic damages ensures that you’re not just reimbursed for the tangible damages you’ve suffered.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages refer to the types of compensation that don’t have a concrete monetary value. They are subjective and represent personal losses endured due to an accident or wrongdoing.
In contrast, economic damages are compensation for monetary losses that you’ve incurred that can be tied to an objective monetary value, like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Most Common Types of Non-Economic Damages
Understanding non-economic damages can seem challenging due to their subjective nature. Here are some common types and examples:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refers to the distress caused by an injury, including both immediate pain and any ongoing discomfort or agony.
Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
Not all scars are visible – severe incidents might trigger psychological impacts like anxiety disorders, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can be awarded compensation for these conditions.
This refers to changes in physical appearance from the injury, like considerable scars and burns, which often cause emotional distress.
Physical impairment includes functional limitations or disabilities arising from an accident that impede your lifestyle. For example, maybe you’re now confined to a wheelchair.
Loss of Enjoyment Life
Accidents have the unfortunate ability to rob victims of certain joys in their life. When this is the case, compensation can be sought. For instance, maybe you loved playing basketball every weekend, but a serious injury from a car crash prevents this now.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Calculating non-economic damages can be difficult, as they are entirely case-specific. While there isn’t a universal calculation, there are two common ways that courts and attorneys come up with a dollar amount:
Per Diem Method
This method assigns a daily value for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, which then is multiplied by the number of days that the victim has experienced them.
For instance, if it takes 180 days to recover from a brain injury and a per diem amount is set at $100, the injured party could potentially ask for $18,000 as compensation under this approach.
More commonly used, the multiplier method applies a number between 1.5 and 5 to a victim’s injuries, with 5 being the most severe. That number is then multiplied by the total economic damages.
So, if medical expenses and other economic damages total $50,000, and a multiplier of 3 was assigned, the non-economic damages would equal $150,000 ($50,000 x 3).
Courts and insurance companies may not always agree with per diem amounts or the multiplier used, or they may try to come to this amount in an entirely different way. Your attorney can help you fight for what you deserve, whether it’s through negotiation or litigation.
Evidence Used To Prove Pain and Suffering Damages
As you can see, proving non-economic damages can be a bit confusing, but several types of evidence are typically utilized:
Documented details about the physical injuries you sustained in the accident can help substantiate personal injury claims regarding pain and suffering. This includes doctors’ reports, treatment plans, medical bills, and future prognoses.
Mental Health Professional Reports
Testimonies or records from therapists or other mental health professionals can play a significant role in validating the emotional distress suffered from an accident.
Personal Diary Entries
Keeping logs documenting daily challenges can be powerful evidence of how difficult your life has been since the accident.
Close family members and friends who have observed changes in your behavior or lifestyle can speak on your behalf. This allows the court or insurance company to get a better idea of how much your life has been impacted and how visible it has been to others.
Letters From Your Employer
A letter from your employer can affirm changes they’ve observed in your ability to perform duties and reflect on changes they’ve noticed in your mood or productivity. While this is most obviously helpful for lost wages, it’s also important in establishing non-economic damages. The inability to work and earn a living as you did before the accident can significantly impact your emotional health.
Pictures capturing visible injuries (like scars or disfigurement) can give those involved a better understanding of what you’re going through and can potentially help establish non-economic damages.
An Experienced Galveston Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Recover Non-Economic Damages
No matter what non-economic damages you’ve suffered, it’s crucial to speak with a personal injury lawyer to ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our Friendswood personal injury lawyers.