Examples of Non-Economic Damages


In a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim various types of damages. These include economic damages, which are quantifiable and based on tangible losses. Another type is non-economic damages, or special damages, that aren’t as easy to calculate compared to documented financial losses, expenses, or charges.

Non-Economic Damages Defined

Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses. They are subjective and may be determined by a lawyer, judge, or jury based on an accident’s or injury’s impact on your life. But they are always paid directly to the victim or a loved one. That’s not always the case with monetary losses; for example, lost earnings go to the victim, while payments for medical bills will go to healthcare providers who treated the patient after they were injured.

Types of Non-Economic Damages

The following examples will help clarify the types of non-monetary damages that can be awarded:

  • Physical Pain and Suffering: Pain can prevent the victim from participating in all types of day-to-day activities. In addition, the severity and duration of a victim’s injuries and the impact on their life are considered. For example, an aspiring athlete suffers crushed legs or a spinal cord injury and can no longer enjoy the activities they once excelled. Such injuries can result in disfiguring scars, a lack of mobility, or paralysis.
  • Emotional Distress: This can include emotional reactions such as anguish, fury, or humiliation due to the harm sustained because of another party’s intentional conduct or negligence. Emotional distress damages can be considered whether a physical injury occurred or not. Medical negligence, sexual abuse, toxic material or disease exposure, or witnessing a loved one’s injury or death can inflict emotional distress.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: The life-altering effects of, for example, a car accident can include fear, trauma, and other psychological and emotional effects on top of physical injuries. These may prevent a victim from going near a vehicle in the future. The person may no longer be able to spend quality time with family and friends or enjoy cooking, walking, running, and enjoying hobbies and entertainment.
  • Permanent Impairment: An accident victim may require help feeding, using the restroom, or dressing, but permanent effects range from physical and functional to psychological. The permanence of their condition is known when it’s determined they’ve reached maximum medical recovery. Individuals with permanent effects can range from permanently scarred burn victims to grieving parents of a child killed in an accident. 
  • Loss of Consortium: When a spouse is injured, they may no longer be able to provide the love, companionship, and support to a partner they once did. The loss of intimate relations or services the person provided before their injury or death may be considered as well. Loss of consortium can also apply to non-economic damages awarded to a close relative, depending on their level of dependence on the victim before their accident.

Also, if a person is unable to interact with family, friends, or people in general, they may be compensated for the loss of society and companionship. Even the basic inconveniences they’ve incurred due to an injury, such as being unable to stand, walk, or drive, can be used to calculate a monetary award.

How Are These Monetary Damages Calculated?

No fixed formula exists for calculating special damages. A jury may use a common sense value based on the evidence, which is one reason the damages awarded can vary so much from case to case. The severity, duration, and impact of one’s injuries are factors that need to be considered along with what constitutes a full recovery. 

An insurance company may also calculate non-monetary damages. Insurers have a great deal of experience with past cases and use their records to calculate estimates. However, insurance companies regularly limit amounts awarded to preserve their financial interests. They often ignore or undervalue non-economic losses, which is why you need a skilled personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf.

Is There a Cap on Non-Economic Damages?

There’s generally no cap on potential awards. However, in California, there’s a $250,000 cap related to medical malpractice cases. In all other cases where there’s sufficient evidence of non-economic losses, no cap is enforced.

Call The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani

No matter the nature and scope of your or a loved one’s injuries, our legal team can help achieve high financial awards for economic and non-economic damages. We’ve won millions of dollars for clients injured in car accidents and due to medical malpractice, premises liability, and defective products. For your free case consultation, contact us online or call 888-952-2952 today.

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