Non-economic damages are losses a person experiences when they sustain injuries from an accident or other negligent or intentional acts. California personal injury laws give injured parties grounds to seek compensation for damages caused by accidents and other torts.
Understanding Damages in Personal Injury Cases
There are two types of compensatory damages in a personal injury claim: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include the financial losses a person incurs from an injury or accident. Economic loss includes medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses.
A person receives non-economic damages to compensate for their personal suffering. There are no bills or invoices to represent the value of non-economic damages. Nevertheless, victims deserve to be compensated for all damages caused by negligent or intentional acts of wrongdoing.
Examples of Non-Economic Damages in California Personal Injury Cases
If another party caused your injuries, you could receive compensation for a variety of non-economic damages, including:
Pain and Suffering
Injuries can cause physical discomfort and pain. The pain can be severe, causing substantial suffering.
Furthermore, the pain can become disabling, especially if you sustain catastrophic injuries. As a result, you might be unable to perform daily activities or work.
Emotional distress can include mental anguish, PTSD, chronic anxiety, and depression. In addition, you may experience embarrassment and humiliation because of scarring and disfigurement.
An injured party can also experience nightmares, panic attacks, and other disabling conditions because of their injuries or the traumatic nature of the accident.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A physical injury can cause you to experience loss of enjoyment of life and diminished quality of life. You may be unable to engage in everyday activities and enjoy the same things you did before the accident. Permanent impairments and disabilities can result in substantial changes in your lifestyle and overall satisfaction with daily life.
Loss of Consortium
A loss of consortium claim is filed by the victim’s family. The claim includes the loss of society, love, companionship, intimate relations, guidance, and support by family members because of their loved one’s injuries or death.
How Do You Calculate the Value of Non-Economic Damages?
Unlike economic damages, there is no “price tag” or “bill” that you can use to calculate non-economic damages. Furthermore, there is no statutory formula used when calculating pain and suffering. Therefore, many insurance companies, personal injury lawyers, and courts use the multiplier method to determine the value of pain and suffering damages.
A number between 1.5 and 5 is chosen based on the facts of the case.
Factors considered include, but are not limited to:
- The type and severity of the injuries
- Whether the victim sustained significant scarring and disfigurement
- If the injuries caused permanent impairments and disabilities
- The duration of the victim’s recovery
- The impact the injury has on the victim’s daily life, relationships with others, career, and emotional health
- The need for ongoing medical treatment or long-term nursing care
The number chosen to represent the severity of the pain and suffering is multiplied by the awarded economic damages. The result is the value of non-economic damages.
The greater the suffering and impact on the victim’s life, the higher the number chosen for the multiplier. Generally, insurance companies downplay these damages to lower the amount they pay to the victim.
Proving the value of a claim for non-economic damages can be challenging.
A Vista personal injury lawyer may retain medical experts to explain how your injuries impact your life. Physicians and specialists can assist in explaining the level of suffering expected from the injuries you sustained. In addition, psychologists may provide opinions regarding how the injuries impacted your emotional health.
Your personal testimony about how the injuries impact your life can also be compelling. Family members and friends can testify regarding how your injuries affected you.
Are Non-Economic Damages Capped in California Personal Injury Cases?
Some states have caps on non-economic damages. California does not cap the amount a jury can award for non-economic damages except in one case. The statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims is $250,000.
Deadlines for Filing Claims for Non-Economic Damages in California
The statute of limitations for most California personal injury claims is two years from the injury date. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the claim involves a government entity, failing to file an administrative claim within six months could result in losing your right to file a lawsuit.
It is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an injury or accident. You do not want to miss the filing deadline. Hiring a lawyer soon after an accident also allows the lawyer to gather and preserve evidence and handle the insurance claims for you.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Non-Economic Damages
An experienced legal team will carefully document your damages to maximize compensation for all losses, including pain and suffering. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Vista, CA to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim and the amount of non-economic damages you may be entitled to seek.