Reports | July 15, 2023 | Personal Injury
A person’s losses after an accident and unexpected injury can far exceed the medical bills that come in the mail. In many situations, they can suffer challenging-to-pinpoint losses, such as the pain they felt from their injuries or the inability to engage in activities they once loved.
Personal injury law calls these intangible losses non-economic damages. While nearly every personal injury claim involves non-economic damages, you need a personal injury lawyer to identify, understand, and calculate them.
Working with a trusted personal injury lawyer in your area can ensure you consider all non-economic damages and seek the full compensation you deserve. If you suffered injuries caused by someone else, consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim?
Before you consider your damages and potential compensation, your attorney will evaluate whether you have a valid cause of action for personal injury. If someone else caused your injuries, you can hold them accountable by filing a personal injury claim.
Your attorney will consider several factors when determining whether you have a personal injury claim:
- Injury or harm – You must have suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. This can include injuries from car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, defective products, truck accidents, and more.
- Duty of care – The responsible party must have owed you a duty of care. For instance, drivers have a duty to drive safely, property owners have a duty to maintain safe premises, and healthcare professionals have a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care.
- Breach of duty – You must show that the responsible party breached their duty of care, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care or acted negligently.
- Causation – You must establish that the breach of duty directly caused your injuries. You need to demonstrate a clear link between the defendant’s actions or negligence and the harm you suffered.
- Damages – You must have suffered measurable damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or property damage, as a result of the incident.
Once your attorney determines you can prove liability for your injuries, the next issue is how much you deserve for your damages.
What Are Personal Injury Damages?
Personal injury damages refer to the compensation you might receive for your losses due to someone else’s negligence. These damages aim to provide financial relief and make the injured party “whole” again.
Personal injury damages fall into categories, such as:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages (which are rare but apply in some cases)
The specific types and amounts of damages you deserve depend on the circumstances of your case, the severity of your injuries, and applicable laws.
Seeking the guidance of a personal injury lawyer is the best step to understanding the types of damages you may be entitled to and navigating the legal process to pursue fair compensation.
Non-economic damages are losses a person suffers without a designated dollar amount automatically assigned to them. You can prove your economic losses, including medical bills and lost income, with bills, statements, and receipts, but non-economic losses have no predetermined value or concrete proof.
These are still compensable losses under the law, and you deserve compensation for the intangible experience you suffered due to your injuries. Often, non-economic damages make up most of a personal injury settlement or award, so you should never underestimate or overlook these damages.
But how do you calculate these losses and prove how much you deserve? This is a job for your personal injury lawyer.
Types of Non-Economic Damages
Every injury victim will have a different experience, which means non-economic losses can vary widely. You need an individual legal assessment of your injuries and how they affected your life. Below are some common non-economic damages.
Physical Pain and Suffering
How much pain did you feel after your accident? Pain is very subjective, but it has a very real effect on every aspect of your life. You might have felt some pain for a few days when you stood up or walked, which limited your activities and required some medication. On the other end of the spectrum, your injury might cause chronic and debilitating pain you expect to live with forever.
Your lawyer will assess your pain levels by reviewing the pain journals you kept, the medication and pain management treatment you needed, the opinions of medical experts, and other evidence to determine the value of your physical pain and suffering.
Emotional Pain and Suffering
Emotional pain can degrade your quality of life. Some injury victims feel emotional distress due to the pain and limitations their injuries cause. Others might feel ongoing distress from the changes to their lives due to their injuries.
What type of emotional changes have you experienced since your injury? This is an important consideration when identifying non-economic damages. Your attorney knows what questions to ask to gauge your level of emotional pain and suffering.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Many injuries limit what you can do in your life. Disabling injuries or chronic pain can significantly diminish the quality of your life.
You might no longer:
- Participate in activities or sports you once loved
- Keep up your usual fitness routine
- Play with or pick up your children
- Return to your fulfilling career
- Have as strong of a relationship with your spouse, friends, or other loved ones
All of this can decrease your enjoyment of your life and affect your mental health and well-being.
Your injury lawyer will analyze your life now and before the accident to assess your loss of enjoyment. Loved ones can testify to the changes and hardship they witnessed following your injury.
Mental trauma is not just unhappiness with life. Trauma makes it challenging for you to engage with other people, do things you enjoy, and more. Many people involved in severe accidents suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of what they experienced.
PTSD can make it impossible for you to engage with the world around you. It may cause debilitating flashbacks or cause sleep disruption. You may experience an intense fear that leads you to make irrational decisions or avoid everyday activities, such as driving or riding in a car.
PTSD and other effects of trauma often require mental counseling or psychiatric treatment. In addition to these treatment costs, you can seek recovery for the non-economic effects of trauma on your life. Discuss all of this with your personal injury lawyer.
Scarring and Disfigurement
It is possible to put a price tag on the financial costs of amputating a leg or reconstructive surgery for facial deformities after an accident. However, it’s not as easy to put a price tag on the emotional toll of living without a limb or presenting yourself to the world with a scarred face. People look at you differently. You may receive different treatment than before the accident.
Scarring and disfigurement make it more challenging to engage in life the way you previously did. You can seek compensation for any permanent scarring or disfigurement you suffered in your accident, and your attorney will consider this loss.
Disabilities and Permanent Impairments
Catastrophic injuries cause permanent disabilities and impairments that change your life. They can prevent you from earning a living and supporting yourself, caring for yourself daily, or simply living the way you enjoy.
Consider, for example, the effects of a traumatic brain injury that leaves you with permanent cognitive impairments. This disability can prevent you from working in many fields, and you might lose your beloved career. You might have to drop out of a higher education program or might avoid hobbies you enjoy, such as reading or writing, that require cognitive clarity.
How do you quantify the effects of a permanent physical or cognitive disability on your life? Your personal injury attorney will ensure your claim accounts for your total devastating losses.
Loss of consortium
Another type of non-economic loss is loss of consortium, which refers to the inability to engage in intimate relationships as you previously did. This includes sexually, but also simply loving and receiving love. A severe injury can change your life for both you and your loved ones. Your family members may feel the loss of love, companionship, and guidance you once provided.
Putting a value on this type of loss is quite difficult. It will vary significantly from one situation to the next. Your attorney will know how to best proceed, given your circumstances.
The Insurance Company Will Undervalue Your Non-Economic Losses
When dealing with personal injury claims, insurance companies want to limit their liability as much as possible. It is more challenging to dispute the value of economic damages, so it’s common for insurance companies to undervalue non-economic losses.
Insurance companies often have a vested interest in minimizing payouts and reducing their financial liability. They often downplay the impact of non-economic losses, knowing these are subjective or more difficult to prove. They may use tactics such as offering low settlement amounts or disputing the severity of your emotional or psychological suffering.
To combat this, you need proper legal representation. A personal injury lawyer will accurately assess the value of your non-economic losses based on their experience and knowledge of similar cases. They can gather evidence, such as medical records, expert testimonies, and personal statements, to support your claim and demonstrate the true extent of your non-economic damages.
Having a skilled attorney by your side levels the playing field and ensures that you receive fair compensation for all the ways your life has been affected by the injury. They will negotiate on your behalf, advocating for your best interests and fighting against the undervaluation of your non-economic losses.
Remember, the insurance company’s goal is to protect its bottom line, while your lawyer’s priority is to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
So, how does your lawyer calculate these intangible and subjective losses?
- Multiplier method – This method involves multiplying the total economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost income) by a certain factor, usually one through five. The multiplier typically depends on the severity of the injuries, the effects on your life, and the long-term effects of your injury. If your injuries are minor, your multiplier might be one, while five applies to catastrophic and disabling injuries.
- Per diem method – With this approach, your attorney establishes a daily rate to compensate for the pain and suffering you experienced. They then multiply that rate by the number of days you have experienced pain or expect to suffer from the effects of the injury in the future.
- Comparative analysis – This method involves looking at similar cases and their outcomes to assess the appropriate range of compensation for non-economic damages. Considerations include the nature of your injury, the extent of pain and suffering, and the impact on your quality of life.
- Expert testimony – Expert witnesses, such as psychologists or medical professionals, can provide insight into the emotional and psychological impact of your injury. Their testimony can help the court or insurance adjusters evaluate your appropriate compensation for non-economic damages.
Different jurisdictions and insurance companies may have their own guidelines and considerations when calculating non-economic damages. An insurance company might apply the per diem method when the multiplier method will increase your compensation.
Your experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure that insurance companies take all relevant factors into account and you receive fair compensation for your non-economic losses.
Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Never risk receiving less than you deserve for your non-economic losses. The best thing you can do is consult a personal injury attorney in Gainesville who has handled cases similar to yours. Don’t delay in seeking a free consultation.