When you have been injured in an accident, you may be facing a mountain of tangible and intangible costs. Courts award economic damages as compensation for the costs that have come out of the victim’s pocket. Injury victims also experience pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and a loss in quality of life as they try to recover. Non-economic damages compensate for these effects.
At The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa, we believe it is critical that personal injury victims understand their legal rights and options. Read on to learn more about non-economic damages so that you can be properly compensated for your injuries.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are a type of damages awarded in personal injury cases. Economic damages compensate for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. In contrast, non-economic damages compensate for the emotional harm that an accident can cause. Both economic and non-economic damages are tied to the plaintiff’s harm, unlike punitive damages, which punish the defendant’s actions.
An injury can make it difficult for someone to engage in daily activities, go to work, and spend quality time with their loved ones. The changes in daily life, activities, and relationships can result in a lower quality of life. Even though it is hard to assign a dollar value to these losses, they are real. Non-economic damages offer some relief to injured parties and their loved ones.
Factors Impacting Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages compensate for various intangible harms that a plaintiff can experience after an injury. These types of harms can factor into the total claim for non-economic damages:
- Pain and Suffering: The degree of the victim’s physical and emotional pain and suffering plays a role. The more severe the accident, the more severe the pain and suffering likely are.
- Emotional Distress: If the injury caused anxiety, depression, or PTSD, that may support a claim of emotional distress.
- Loss of Enjoyment: The injury may diminish the plaintiff’s ability to enjoy life and engage in activities he once cherished. Plaintiffs can seek non-economic damages for this loss.
- Loss of Consortium: The injured party’s spouse may experience a loss of companionship after the injury. This loss is another basis for non-economic damages.
Determining non-economic damages is not an exact science. These damages aim to provide a sense of justice and compensation for intangible losses. Thus, evaluating non-economic damages can be somewhat subjective. A skilled attorney can build a case for non-economic damages by providing context on the impact the injury has had on the injury victim’s life.
Texas does not impose a cap on non-economic damages in most personal injury cases except for those based on medical malpractice.
Even though there is generally not a cap on non-economic damages, claims for non-economic damages must still be supported by evidence. Providing evidence of the intangible impacts can be challenging, but testimony from mental health professionals can bolster a claim for non-economic damages.
Real-World Examples of Non-Economic Damages
There is no strict formula or list of situations in which a plaintiff can claim non-economic damages. However, here are some examples of situations which may give rise to non-economic damages:
- A parent loses mobility and cannot keep up with her active young children. The loss of enjoyment and emotional anguish that this causes can be claimed as non-economic damages.
- The injured party and his spouse experience a loss in closeness and intimacy due to the injury. That loss can also be claimed as non-economic damages.
- A daughter has to live without a parent who died in an accident. The emotional anguish of the loss of a parent is the kind of intangible harm that non-economic damages seek to compensate.
- A recreational biker can no longer go on his morning bike ride after an injury. The loss of enjoyment and disruption to daily activities can be claimed as non-economic damages.
- A pedestrian is injured in a distracted driving accident. The accident causes post-traumatic amnesia, causing them to forget daily tasks. The emotional pain this causes to the victim can be claimed as non-economic damages.
As the list above illustrates, there are many different situations in which one can claim non-economic damages. The harm that one suffers from a given incident can vary based on the individual. For example, two people can be injured in a car accident and experience different emotional harms.
Why Are Non-Economic Damages Important?
In a lawsuit, damages are awarded to make the plaintiff whole. This means that damages aim to compensate harms that plaintiffs have experienced. Non-economic damages are important in a personal injury case because they acknowledge that the plaintiff’s emotional losses are part of those effects. They illustrate that the human impact of an injury can go far beyond medical bills and receipts.
Injuries can have long-lasting consequences. Without non-economic damages, the lasting emotional and social costs of the accident would go uncompensated. Non-economic damages are a critical component of personal injury cases, addressing the emotional, psychological, and non-monetary impacts of an injury. They play a significant role in helping victims find closure and receive compensation for the intangible consequences of their injuries.
Contact Personal Injury Law Firm of The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa in McAllen, TX
If you plan to bring a personal injury claim, it is essential to contact an experienced attorney who can provide guidance on seeking the appropriate compensation, including non-economic damages. Most McAllen personal injury attorneys offer free consultations as well, so you can get some initial legal advice without paying a cent out of pocket.