Non-economic damages are intangible and psychological. You are probably dealing with non-economic damages if you cannot easily count your losses in dollars and cents.
Imagine you break a rib in a car accident, for example. Simple reimbursement for your medical expenses won’t be enough to compensate you. What about the every-breath agony you suffered while your rib was healing? How about the fear you experienced while trapped in your car awaiting rescue?
Examples of Non-Economic Damages
The types of non-economic damages that may apply to a case will vary depending on the severity and types of injuries sustained.
Common examples of non-economic damages include the following:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Disruption to bodily health and vigor
- Disruption to normal living
- Disruption of enjoyment of life
- Diminished earning capacity or forced retirement
- The shock of the impact of the injuries
- Fear about the extent of the injury
- Mental anguish
- Psychological trauma
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- PTSD (from a dog attack, for example)
- Loss of privacy
- Loss of dignity
- Impaired social relationships
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of mobility
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of independence
Any loss arising out of an accident that is inherently intangible is a candidate for non-economic damages.
Proving Non-Economic Damages
In court, you must prove that you should recover non-economic damages. This means that you have to prove your claim with admissible evidence.
A Preponderance of the Evidence
In a personal injury lawsuit, it is the party filing the claim who must prove it. In other words, as the victim, you bear the burden of proof. Fortunately, you don’t have to prove your claim “beyond a reasonable doubt” as prosecutors do in a criminal case. All you need is a “preponderance of the evidence”-–enough evidence to convince the court that your claim is more likely than not to be true.
Following are some examples of evidence that is frequently useful to prove non-economic damages in personal injury cases:
- Medical records that document psychological treatment, therapy sessions, or psychiatric evaluations to prove mental anguish or emotional distress
- Expert testimony from mental health professionals confirming the seriousness of the emotional impact of your injury
- Your personal diary, documenting your daily struggles, pain, and emotional state
- “Before” and “after” photographs, video footage, and social media posts that serve as powerful evidence of the lifestyle changes you have had to endure
- Statements from your family, friends, and coworkers about changes in your mood, behavior, and social interactions
- You can testify about your own pain and suffering, as well as the impact of the injury on your life
- Physical therapy records can document the limitations and struggles you face
- Pain management records, including medication, can bolster your case
- Reports from quality-of-life assessments conducted by professionals
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you gather and analyze evidence to prove your non-economic damages.
Wrongful Death and Survival Action Damages
If the victim of a personal injury dies from their injuries, their family can pursue a wrongful death. The deceased’s representative could also bring a survival action in favor of the victim’s probate estate.
The following non-economic damages are possible:
- The victim’s probate estate can claim any non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, that the deceased victim suffered prior to death. There may not be non-economic damages if the the death was instantaneous.
- Surviving family members can seek non-economic damages for lost care, companionship, counsel, and advice.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can help your family seek non-economic damages if your loved one succumbs to injuries sustained in an accident.
Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Georgia
The Georgia General Assembly, concerned about runaway litigation, has enacted monetary limitations on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims.
In the case of medical malpractice claims against healthcare providers in Georgia, there is a cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages. If a claim involves more than one healthcare facility, this cap can increase to $700,000.
The General Assembly tried to enact broader limitations on non-economic damages in personal injury cases, but the Supreme Court of Georgia found these limitations in violation of the Georgia state constitution.
Suing vs. Settling
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. If you are claiming large non-economic damages, however, you might have trouble convincing the opposing party to agree to them during settlement negotiations. Your best chance might be for them to agree to your settlement demands out of fear that if the case goes to trial, a “runaway jury” might award you millions of dollars.
Book Your Free Appointment Now with an Experienced Lawrenceville Personal Injury Lawyer
If you want to tell your story and explore your options, schedule an appointment today with our Lawrenceville personal injury lawyer. Lawson Personal Injury Attorneys is committed to helping accident victims recover all available non-economic damages. And remember–if you don’t win, your legal fees are zero.