The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages - Adamson Ahdoot LLP

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The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages

March 9, 2022 Robert Jalon California, Client Resources, FAQ, Legal Process

Personal injury claims can be filed when an individual suffers an injury because of another person’s harmful actions. If the at-fault person is found liable for a victim’s injuries, it may hold him or her financially responsible for injury-related damages.

In an injury lawsuit, these damages are categorized as either economic or non-economic. What is the difference between economic and non-economic damages? Simply put, economic damages are measurable and non-economic damages do not have a specific dollar value.

Types of Economic Damages

Economic damages have a specific monetary value. For example: as a result of an injury, a victim accrues out-of-pocket medical expenses (e.g., doctor visits, surgeries, medication). These medical expenses have a specific dollar value and are easily calculated.

Additional examples of economic damages are:

  • Income lost from taking time off work while recovering from an injury
  • Cost of replacing damaged property
  • Loss of earning capacity because of injury
  • Cost of physical therapy

Types of Non-Economic Damages

Unlike economic damages, which have a measurable value, non-economic damages are losses with no monetary value. For example: As a result of wrongful death, a victim’s spouse suffers a loss of the deceased’s love and support. Love and support have no monetary value but are still considered a loss.

Additional examples of non-economic damages are:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience and embarrassment

After a catastrophic injury, some of the greatest losses may be non-economic. Many plaintiffs bring their lawsuits not just to recover economic damages, which often result in a substantial recovery by insurers and physicians rather than the plaintiff’s family, but in order to obtain redress for their loss of joy in living. 

How are Economic and Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

It’s often much easier to determine economic damages than damages that have no “set” value. In most cases, damages like medical bills and lost wages can be calculated without too much confusion. Placing a value on damages that aren’t as easy to measure like future medical expenses can be difficult, which is why many attorneys rely on experts to help assess these types of damages. Although many states place caps on non-economic award amounts, the only such cap in California is for medical malpractice cases because of MICRA.

You deserve full and fair compensation, which is why it’s important you hire a lawyer who has experience calculating damages and who also has a strong network of experts to work with. Building a strong case to present to a jury is key to ensuring you receive the highest amount of compensation possible for medical costs, lost income, disability, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other types of damages.

If you were injured by the harmful actions of another person, and you would like to know what types of damages are recoverable in an injury case, consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Adamson Ahdoot LLP today.

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