Non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit are compensation for losses that are not tangible. Damages that can’t be directly measured by calculations are non-economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit are pain and suffering, emotional anguish and changes in lifestyle.

Understanding Non-Economic Damages In A Lawsuit

When you’re hurt in an accident, some of your damages are easy to value. For example, if you go to the emergency room, you might receive a bill for $1,000. That is an example of economic damages.

Other damages aren’t so easy to value. For example, the victim may have difficulty walking because of their injuries. They may deal with considerable pain while they recover. These damages are non-economic damages. They’re called non-economic damages because they can’t be directly measured by dollars lost.

However, non-economic damages are very real damages. If you’re the victim of a personal injury accident, you may have the right to claim compensation for non-economic damages. In fact, the value of non-economic damages can meet or exceed the value of economic damages.

An attorney for a personal injury claim with non-economic damages can help ensure that you receive a judgment in your case that reflects a fair amount of non-economic damages. Many people make the mistake of assuming that pain and suffering doesn’t apply in their case. They think that settling with the insurance company means that they can’t get any pain and suffering compensation. However, that isn’t the case.

With the help of your attorney, you can include the appropriate amount of non-economic damages as part of your overall claim for compensation. You have a trained and experienced advocate who can approach the insurance company or the other party with a claim for non-economic damages. They can help you take the steps to negotiate a settlement or bring a formal legal action to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.

Related: What Are Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Are Punitive Damages Non-Economic Damages?

No, punitive damages are not non-economic damages. However they are not economic damages, either. Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for any kind of loss. Instead, they are meant to punish the defendant for their actions.

Because punitive damages are not meant to make the victim whole for any kind of loss, punitive damages are not non-economic damages.

punitive damages quote

Non-Economic Damages In A Car Accident

In a car accident, non-economic damages compensate the victim for pain and suffering. They are meant to give the victim something for all of the losses that go along with being the victim of a car accident that can’t be measured directly.

Non-economic damages are available in car accident cases. The amount that the victim can receive depends on the severity of the damages.

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Examples Of Non-Economic Damages

Here are some examples of how non-economic damages may be awarded in personal injury cases:

  • Alex is rear-ended by a truck. She suffers minor cuts and bruises, and a mild concussion as a result of the accident. Her recovery takes about two weeks, and she has one medical bill for $1,000. Alex may be awarded non-economic damages equal to half her economic damages, or $500 total. Alex receives a total of $1,500 in compensation for her claim.
  • Jordan is t-boned by a driver who ran a light at an intersection. Jordan suffers a broken arm, whiplash and a torn tendon in his foot. His recovery takes six months. His medical bills total $50,000. Jordan receives non-economic damages equal to two times his economic damages or $100,000. The total value of Jordan’s legal claim is $150,000.
  • Caden gets hit by a drunk driver. Caden suffers a spinal fracture that results in paralysis from the waist down. Although Caden can make strides with physical therapy, he will have lifelong limitations and need significant care. Caden will need a projected $1 million in medical care over his lifetime. His award of pain and suffering is $3 million for a total case value of $4 million.

Multipliers for pain and suffering can go as high as five times the economic damages. Cases with mild to moderate injuries generally do not receive a pain and suffering multiplier of five. In most cases, the pain and suffering multiplier ranges from .05 to 1.5 times the amount of economic damages. As economic damages increase, it makes more sense that pain and suffering increases, too.

Considering The Severity Of Pain

Pain and suffering is typically proportional to economic damages, but not always. In some cases, pain may be severe but not require a large amount of medical bills. An example would be an injury that causes disfigurement. The victim’s life may change forever, but there may not be a benefit to costly medical attention.

That shouldn’t stand in the way of the victim getting the compensation that they deserve.

Pain and Suffering After Personal Injury

The victim can enter evidence to show that their pain and suffering is unique and extraordinary. For example, they might have a doctor testify to the pain that the victim is likely to suffer because of their injuries.

The victim themselves can talk about limitations and the changes in lifestyle. Photographs of scars and disfigurement can be powerful evidence, too.

How An Attorney Assists You With Non-Economic Damages

Your personal injury attorney assists you with all of the various factors and things that you need to do in order to receive a fair amount of non-economic damages. Understanding the amount that you deserve in economic damages begins with an assessment of what your medical bills are. Once you have that information, you can address the associated pain and suffering.

With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can evaluate the evidence, prepare it in a way that is admissible in court, and negotiate a fair resolution. In some cases, you can reach a fair settlement through negotiations. In other cases, it’s appropriate to go to trial. Your attorney builds your case so that you have options. Then, they give you the guidance to make the best possible choices for your case.

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