When you suffer injuries in an accident caused by someone else, you deserve to recover financial compensation for your losses. In California, these compensatory losses are divided into economic and noneconomic damages.
Recovering the total value of your claim is vital to getting the compensation you and your family need to resume your lives. While it’s easy to identify economic damages, identifying what are noneconomic damages is more difficult.
Read on to learn about noneconomic damages and how to calculate these losses in a personal injury claim.
If you have questions or would like to speak to a California personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.
What Are Noneconomic Damages?
Noneconomic damages represent a class of losses in a personal injury claim that are not directly calculable from financial or medical expenses or other similar losses.
Instead, these damages relate to the physical, psychological, and emotional losses stemming from your injury and include the following:
- Emotional distress,
- Physical pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Permanent injury or disability, and
- Permanent disfigurement.
These intangible losses are challenging to prove but are no less real to a suffering victim. Your personal injury attorney can ensure that these noneconomic losses are recovered so you get the full value of your claim.
Examples of Noneconomic Damages
Several types of noneconomic damages examples help victims understand what they may be entitled to recover after an accident.
Emotional distress refers to the psychological impact of an injury. For example, after a traumatic experience like a traffic collision, a victim may find it impossible to drive again without enduring an anxiety attack.
They may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, due to their experience and may be unable to drive on their own.
Victims may also suffer from depression after suffering an injury that changes their way of life, requiring medical intervention.
Physical Pain and Suffering
Injuries are painful, and you are entitled to recover for this pain. However, placing a value on this pain is difficult for many to quantify and requires the assistance of a personal injury attorney.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium focuses on an injured victim’s relationship with their spouse and family members. A victim and the victim’s spouse may experience a loss of companionship and affection or negative effects on their sexual relationship due to an injury suffered in an accident. This loss is recoverable through a noneconomic damages award.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life represents a victim’s loss of enjoyment of everyday activities or hobbies they used to engage in before their injury. Activities include playing sports, spending time with family, playing music, or hiking with friends.
For example, suppose a victim suffers a severe injury in a collision that now confines them to a wheelchair and makes it impossible to play sports with their children or enjoy the outdoors like they used to. An award for the loss of enjoyment of life provides compensation for this loss.
Permanent Injury or Disability
Suppose a victim suffers a permanent injury or disability as a result of their accident. In that case, noneconomic damages can be awarded to compensate them for losing their ability to work, participate in hobbies, and perform the everyday tasks they did with ease before their collision.
Some injuries may result in permanent disfigurement or scarring. For instance, many vehicle collisions and product liability cases may result in fires and increase the risk of a victim suffering from catastrophic burns.
If a victim suffers from scars or burns on their face or body, they may feel embarrassment, anger, and sadness at their new appearance.
A victim is entitled to recover for this pain, and an experienced personal injury attorney can help to put a value on this intangible loss.
How to Calculate Noneconomic Damages
When comparing economic vs. noneconomic damages, there is a clear distinction when calculating their value. Unlike economic damages, there is no exact formula for calculating noneconomic damages.
As a result, these losses are only possible with the help of a qualified personal injury attorney.
Your attorney analyzes various factors to determine your injuries’ impact on your life. These factors may include the following:
- Your injury’s prognosis, including whether it is permanent or long-term;
- The severity of your injuries;
- Your credibility;
- The liability of the defendant;
- The willfulness and recklessness of the defendant’s actions that caused your injury;
- The strength of the evidence establishing the seriousness of your injury; and
- Your testimony and the testimony of other witnesses, including experts.
If your case goes to trial, obtaining the full value of your noneconomic losses means convincing a judge or jury. The only standard for valuing these losses is awarding an amount that a reasonable person would estimate as fair compensation.
Many personal injury cases are settled and never go to trial. In these situations, your attorney may calculate your noneconomic damages using a multiplier, the daily rate method, or a combination.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method requires the calculation of economic damages first. A multiplier, usually between one and five, is chosen based on the extent and severity of a victim’s suffering and harm.
The more severe a victim’s non-economic losses, the higher the multiplier. The economic damages are then multiplied by this number to arrive at the noneconomic damages figure.
The Daily Rate Method
The daily rate method utilizes a fair daily rate for living with the injuries you have suffered. This rate is multiplied by how many days you have spent recovering from your injury.
Determining a fair daily rate requires supporting evidence. Attempting to calculate a value utilizing the daily rate method without an experienced personal injury attorney could result in getting far less compensation than you deserve.
Caps on Noneconomic Damages in California
California does not place a cap on noneconomic damages awards except in cases of medical malpractice. In those cases, a victim may only receive noneconomic damages up to $250,000.
In other personal injury cases, if a victim successfully proves the existence of these intangible losses, there is no limit on the award they can receive.
Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney Today
With hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for injured clients, it’s no wonder clients from across California and the Western U.S. count on Wells Call Injury Lawyers to help them achieve justice.
Our outstanding team of legal professionals is prepared to handle even the most unique and complex personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Although we never guarantee a particular outcome, our strong record of success puts our client’s minds at ease that we are working hard to achieve the best possible result.
With over 40 years of legal experience, we are committed to helping accident victims protect their rights to recover the compensation they deserve.
We work tirelessly to hold the right parties accountable for your harm so you and your family can move forward with your life. Contact us today by phone or email for a free case review and learn how we can help you.