Non-Economic Damages

When you suffer an injury, you will incur financial losses. These economic damages include amounts that you pay or become obligated to pay, such as bills from hospitals, doctors, and physical therapists.

You also incur non-financial losses. These losses account for the impact of your injuries on your quality of life. Personal injury laws give you the right to seek compensation for these non-economic damages just as you can pursue compensation for economic damages.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Your life is likely not the same after you suffered an injury. You might have lost sleep from pain and concern. Your disfiguring scars may embarrass you and isolate you socially. Your disabilities could prevent you from playing with your children or engaging in your favorite hobbies.

Non-economic damages include all the ways your injuries affected you without carrying a price tag. These losses erode your quality and enjoyment of life. They can even have subsequent mental or physical effects as the stress causes changes in your body. Stress could cause problems with your heart and blood pressure, shortening your life.

Examples of Non-Economic Damages

You have probably heard of “pain and suffering.” This shorthand summarizes some of the most common non-economic damages you could suffer.

Physical pain makes everything more difficult. It can limit your mobility. Depending on your injury, you might not even be able to sit or lie down comfortably. Your pain could even rob you of your independence. You might need a caretaker to assist you as you drive, shop, cook, and care for your children.

Mental anguish and emotional distress can also diminish your quality of life. Depression can cause you to curtail your activities even if you have the physical ability to do them. Anxiety can cause you to miss work and isolate yourself from friends and family. You may worry about your health and financial future.

But non-economic losses go far beyond pain and suffering. Other examples of non-economic losses include:

  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of mentorship
  • Loss of marital relations

Bear in mind that your non-economic damages do not include the financial costs of these injuries. Instead, they account for the human costs to your well-being.

For example, suppose that you suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident. The costs for therapy and medication to treat these medical issues would count as economic damages. The diminishment in your mental and emotional health due to these medical issues would count as non-economic damages.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages

It might seem impossible to put a value on losses that, by definition, have no value. But for a claims adjuster or jury to compensate you for these losses, they must arrive at a monetary value for them.

When you file your claim, you may need an expert witness to explain how to place a value on your non-economic losses. Experts typically use two methods to evaluate non-economic losses:

Per Diem Method

In this method, the claims adjuster or jury selects a value for your losses based on the extent of your injuries. More severe injuries are worth more than less severe injuries.

Thus, if you were in a coma, your injuries might have been worth thousands of dollars per day. But if you had a broken wrist, your injury might be worth only a hundred dollars per day.

The finder of fact then multiplies the daily value by the number of days you suffered your injury. So in the broken wrist example, $100 might get multiplied by six weeks or 42 days. This gives non-economic losses of $4,200. But in the coma example, $1,000 might get multiplied by three months, giving non-economic losses of $90,000.

Multiplier Method

In the multiplier method, the claims adjuster or jury selects a multiplier between 1.5 and 5.0. They base their selection on the severity or duration of your injuries.

A permanent injury, like an amputation, gets a higher multiplier. Likewise, a severe temporary injury, like a coma, also gets a higher multiplier. Temporary or minor injuries get a lower multiplier.

The finder of fact multiplies your economic losses by the multiplier to get your total damage award. 

The Role of an Injury Attorney in Proving Non-Economic Damages

Proving economic losses will require your injury attorney to present evidence about your injuries and how they affect your life. Evidence that can support your claim might include medical records and testimony from friends and family members. Non-economic damages can make up a large percentage of your settlement or jury award.

To learn about the non-economic damages you might be entitled to under Arizona or New Mexico law, call our personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion, PLC at (602) 595-5559 or contact us online for a free consultation.