Non-Economic Damages Explained

Every single auto accident that occurs is unique, as are the injuries sustained, whether they are physical, mental, or both. There are damages that are easily calculated – things like medical bills, lost wages, etc. Then there are non-economic damages, which do not have a specific dollar amount attached to them such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. The more your attorney is able to know and understand what you’ve had to endure because of your accident, the better he or she will be able to craft a demand letter that seeks the compensation you’re entitled to.

If non-economic damages for your accident equal a significant amount of money, your smartest move is to seek out an attorney with extensive experience in justifying the damages requested. Here at Sevey, Donahue & Talcott, we know what you’ve been through because of your accident because we work with victims like you every day in our practice. We can help you obtain the very most for your damages – both economic and non-economic.

It is often quite difficult for an accident victim to discuss what they’ve endured. There are a few reasons for this. First, recalling such a traumatic event is stressful. Further, the victim sometimes has to relate very personal information about themselves, such as loss of sexual function or enjoyment. And finally, the victim may be afraid of being seen as weak or complaining. An experienced attorney will be aware of this and will call in someone close to the victim – a friend, family member, colleague, or employer – to testify on behalf of the victim. This will enable the judge or jury to better understand what the victim has been through, through the eyes of people who know and appreciate the victim.

Types of Non-Economic Damages

There are various types of non-economic damages that are commonly included in settlements or judgments. These are the most widely requested.

Pain and Suffering

The physical pain you endure from the accident, along with the emotional suffering, including projected future suffering, is referred to collectively as “pain and suffering.” For instance, if you suffered a massive concussion in the accident, your compensation would be determined by how badly you were hurt, how long it took you to recover, and how your injury will affect your day to day life in the future.

Emotional Distress

The fear, anxiety, grief, shock, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and overwhelm you feel after your accident are all considered signs of emotional distress. Emotional distress can manifest itself in physical symptoms too, such as weight loss, headaches, excessive sweating, or extreme fatigue. Some of these symptoms can become debilitating if left untreated.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is the negative effect the accident and subsequent injuries have had on your personal relationships, including your marriage. Loss of consortium means the loss of love, affection, protection, sexual enjoyment, companionship, emotional support, and intimacy that you enjoyed prior to the accident.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

The amount of compensation you seek for the loss of enjoyment of life is determined by how deeply your life is affected because of the accident. When the enjoyment you used to feel participating in daily activities is impaired, you deserve compensation. For instance, if you used to enjoy swimming, needlepoint, or bicycle riding, and you no longer can because of the injuries you’ve sustained, that would be considered loss of enjoyment of life.

Disfigurement

A permanent alteration of your appearance is called disfigurement. It may come in the form of severe scarring, missing flesh that could not be cosmetically repaired, or facial injuries that permanently changed how you look. The impact from disfigurement is physically and emotionally devastating and may last for the rest of your life.

The Analysis and Calculation of Non-Economic Damages

Often, the largest portion of the damages you seek after a severe accident are non-economic damages. The physical injuries may heal long before the mental and emotional trauma releases its grip. It may take years of therapy or medicinal treatment to help lessen the symptoms, and some people never quite return to who they were before the accident.

The extent of your physical and emotional trauma will decide how much financial compensation you’re entitled to. Since there are no hard figures for the value of pain and suffering, the calculation for compensation of these damages include these various elements:

  • Whether the injuries are long-term or permanent in nature;
  • The severity of the injuries and emotional trauma caused by the accident;
  • The level of disruption you’ve experienced to your day to day life;
  • Your projected recovery time period.

Non-Economic Damages and Uninsured Drivers

In the State of California, there are certain limits and regulations put in place for the recovery of such damages. For instance, an uninsured driver may not recover non-economic damages at all, even if the other driver was negligent and caused the accident through no fault of the uninsured driver. There is one exception to this rule, and that is if the uninsured driver was in an accident that resulted from the at-fault driver being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the driver is convicted of DUI, the uninsured driver may recover non-economic damages.

What To Do Next

If you’ve experienced pain, suffering, and mental or emotional trauma following an accident that was not your fault, please contact one of the attorneys at Sevey, Donahue & Talcott. We can assess your case, and give you an estimate for non-economic damages based on our decades of experience in personal injury law. Contact us today at (916) 788-7100 or through our online contact page.