When filing a personal injury claim, most people doing so are seeking to recoup losses resulting from an injury or illness caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person or entity. In legal terms, there are different types of losses, often called damages, that can be awarded in a successful personal injury claim. You may have heard about non-economic damages in a personal injury case and want to understand what that means and what falls under this type of loss.
Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
In order to understand non-economic damages, it’s helpful to look at the types of damages awarded in a personal injury claim. Damages in a personal injury claim generally fall into one of two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are designed to do just that -- compensate the injured party for losses incurred as a result of their injuries. Compensatory damages include what’s called economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the party responsible for the injuries and typically reserved for the most egregious cases of negligence.
Economic damages are designed to to bring the victim back to the same financial state as before the accident. These include any tangible losses that often can be proved through documentation, bills and evidence of the cost. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical treatment including rehabilitation
- Medical equipment, devices and the cost of retrofitting your home
- Loss of income
- Property damage
- Legal fees
The amount for compensation for economic damages varies from case to case, usually determined by the severity of the injuries. The more severe your injuries, the higher the medical bills and the more time you may be out of work.
Unlike tangible economic damages, non-economic damages refer to intangible losses suffered by the injured victim. While economic damages are usually intended to help restore a person to their financial position before the accident, non-economic damages are a form of compensation that accounts for an injured person’s pain, emotional distress, suffering and other similar issues related to an accident. Common kinds of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, impairment or disfigurement.
When filing a claim that includes non-economic damages, it’s important to build evidence to prove your case and the emotional anguish or pain and suffering it caused. In some cases a diagnosis of PTSD or depression may show what you are going through or the nature of your injuries alone may warrant an award for non-economic damages. Your lawyer may also advise you to keep a journal documenting your pain and experience recovering from your injuries.
Every case is unique and the amount of compensation awarded for non-economic damages is not an easy calculation. Oftentimes, insurance companies look at the severity and permanency of your bodily injuries. In other words, you will be entitled to more money for pain and suffering if you suffered a traumatic brain injury than if you bruised your leg. The more severe and permanent your injury is, the more pain and suffering you will experience, and the more you deserve in compensation for your injuries.
Insurance companies typically multiply the cost of medical bills by a number between one and five to calculate “pain and suffering.” The more severe and permanent the injury, the higher the multiplier. Because of the complexity and judgment required to estimate pain and suffering, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is critical to get the compensation you deserve. Their experience will help to be prepared to explain and justify your calculation.
Brandon J. Broderick, Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, working with experienced personal injury attorneys can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with personal injury settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.