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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Ruth E. Bernstein with Ruth Bernstein Law.
In personal injury law, non-economic damages are costs that have no direct corollary to expenses, or bills, or property damages that would require repair or replacement. Instead, they refer to damages and losses that are harder to put a price on.
First, let’s start by defining economic damages. These are pretty straightforward components of a personal injury lawsuit. Medical bills, surgery, prescription costs, wages you lost because you couldn’t work, vehicle repairs, rental car costs while your car was in the shop… basically, anything that you have a receipt for as a result of your injury would be considered an economic damage.
Non-economic damages refer to the emotional and personal cost of the injury. Examples would include anything from pain and suffering, emotional agony, humiliation, loss of reputation, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of limb, disfigurement, and even the worsening of some physical injuries.
In fact, in many personal injury cases, some of the most severe damages a claimant may experience would happen to be non-economic. This could include anything from the simple act of being able to help children put on clothes on a daily basis, being able to feed and clothe yourself, and live an independent life. These are all basic human functions every individual has a right to enjoy and experience, so when an injury prevents that or completely destroys that enjoyment, some sense of compensation has to be provided.
You might see this in cases involving traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries—after the incident, an individual might have issues with dancing, walking and playing sports, which may be considered a loss of quality of life. Wrongful deaths may also apply here as grounds for non-economic damages in the case of a father dying due to inaccurate diagnosis due to a heart attack, for example, leaving a grieving family behind. The surviving members now have to deal with not only paying the mortgage, but also how the children are supposed to grow up without a father who could have avoided the situation had the doctor done the job right.
Juries may differ in terms of conclusions as to the appropriate monetary value of non-economic damages. How can you put a price on not being able to walk again, for example, or no longer having your husband around? The amount of the damages vary in each case, and some states have laws that limit the amount of non-economic damages a victim can receive.
Having bills and lost wages recovered may only cover perhaps half of the real damage inflicted. The real recovery is in what a court can provide beyond that. Awards for non-economic damages, can’t reverse what happened, but they can provide some comfort, stability, and recompense.
Written on behalf of Ruth Bernstein by AskTheLawyers.com™
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