What Are Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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Arriving at a value for your personal injury case is complex. Most people don’t sit around thinking about the value of an injury claim until they or a family member get hurt in an accident. However, the most crucial step in determining your injury accident claim’s value is figuring out what your case is worth.


    What Are Non-Economic Damages?

    Non-economic damages in an injury lawsuit are damages that compensate you for losses that are not financial. If you sustain losses that can’t be measured by out-of-pocket dollar figures, you can place a value on them and seek compensation as non-economic damages. The purpose of non-economic damages is to provide you with compensation for the intangible things that you lost because of the personal injury accident, including your physical pain, disfigurement, loss of lifestyle and mental injuries.

    With your attorney’s help, 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 to claim non-economic damages. They can help you take steps to negotiate a settlement or bring a formal legal action to make sure that you get the financial relief you deserve.

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

    Mental and Emotional Damages in Personal Injury Cases

    But if you’re hurt in an accident, you don’t need a personal injury lawyer to tell you that your injuries extend far beyond physical injuries and damaged property. In fact, your emotional and mental injuries can be equally devastating if not even more devastating than your physical injuries. Perhaps you live with physical pain. Maybe you’re not able to participate in activities that you used to enjoy. You might live with anxiety, depression, and flashbacks.

    All of these types of injuries deserve compensation. Under Nevada law, you have a right to compensation for these injuries. These types of damages have a name: non-economic damages.


    Types of Non-Economic Damages in a Nevada Personal Injury Lawsuit

    Non-economic damages is the broad name for all of the non-monetary losses that you have because of your injury. Several subcategories count as non-economic damages, including:

    • Pain – A physical injury can result in a great deal of pain. Recovering for only your medical expenses doesn’t compensate you for the physical pain that you have to endure because of your injuries. If you suffer physical pain because of your injuries, you can value the pain as part of your non-economic damages.
    • Emotional Anguish – Being in a personal injury accident is a scary event. You likely have emotional anguish because of what you’ve experienced. Your life has changed. The emotional distress that you suffer is part of your damages in a personal injury case.
    • Humiliation and Reputation Damage – A personal injury accident might change your social standing. You might worry about your personal and professional reputation. The humiliation and reputation damage that you feel is part of your non-economic damages.
    • Loss of Enjoyment – When you suffer injuries in an accident, you may be unable to do the things that you used to enjoy. You might have short-term or long-term interruptions to your daily routine. If you can no longer go skiing or play a musical instrument, for example, you deserve compensation for the loss of enjoyment in these activities.
    • Disfigurement – If you have scars or permanent injuries from your accident, the disfigurement that you suffer may be part of your non-economic damages. You may not have financial losses because of scaring or permanent mobility impairment, but it can still significantly change the rest of your life. Disfigurement is a consideration in the value of your non-economic damages.
    • Mental injuries – Anxiety, worry, stress, fear, grief, depression – If you suffer from psychological injuries from your personal injury accident, you deserve compensation for the mental difficulties that you experience. Non-economic damages for mental injuries are different than the economic cost of treating those injuries. Your non-economic damages represent the anguish of having to cope with the mental trauma.

    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 loss, punitive damages are not considered non-economic damages.


    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, and 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.

    What Can I Claim in Non-Economic Damages in My Nevada Personal Injury Case?

    Your non-economic damages depend on the severity of your accident. The more severe, painful, lasting and permanent your injuries are, the higher your non-economic damages are going to be. The time it takes to heal, your pain level, and what mental harm you suffer all factor into the value of your non-economic damages. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate your economic and non-economic damages so that you know what amount to request as compensation in your injury case.

    Non-Economic Damage Limits in Nevada Personal Injury Cases

    In medical malpractice cases, there are limits to non-economic damages. If your injury claim is a medical malpractice claim, you can collect up to $350,000 in non-economic damages. There are no limits to the non-economic damages that you can collect in other types of personal injury cases. In most injury cases, you can fully collect the total of your economic damages and non-economic damages.

    How an Attorney Assists You With Non-Economic Damages

    Your personal injury attorney assists you with all of the various factors you need to do to receive a fair amount of non-economic damages. Understanding the amount that you deserve in economic damages begins with assessing 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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    Adam S. Kutner

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