If you suffer an injury in an accident that arose from someone else’s misconduct, you might qualify for many different types of compensation. This compensation will likely include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages often amount to the greater part of a personal injury claim, accounting for more than a victim’s economic damages.
Definition of Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible, difficult-to-value losses. For the sake of clarity, it helps to contrast non-economic damages with economic damages. Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate — medical expenses, lost earnings, and out-of-pocket costs, for example.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement and scarring, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
Types of Non-Economic Damages in an Illinois Personal Injury Case
Following are some descriptions of the most commonly-awarded forms of non-economic damages.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for physical and emotional pain.
Physical pain from an injury is one part of that. Other components might include shock, fatigue, cognitive changes, or respiratory distress. Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the suffering that arises directly from your injuries.
An accident is usually a traumatic experience. Consider the fear you might experience by not knowing whether you will live or die, the everyday torture of being confined to a bed, or the depression that you might feel after your doctor tells you that you might never walk again. All of this distress is worth something.
Disfigurement and Scarring
Imagine suffering a disfiguring scarring of your face. The social and professional consequences could devastate your optimism and your self-esteem. Compensating you for medical bills or pain and suffering wouldn’t be enough to account for this devastation.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Your injuries might prevent you from engaging in many activities that used to bring you joy, such as sports or exercise. Both physical and cognitive impairments can prevent you from participating in activities you used to love.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is typically a claim that your spouse files (if you are married). Because of your accident, your spouse might have suffered deprivation of intangible benefits such as love, affection, companionship, or advice. The accident might have also negatively affected your sex life.
Proving Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Asserting non-economic damages is one matter. Proving your entitlement to them is another. Because of the intangible nature of non-economic damages, calculating them will likely generate significant controversy.
Calculating Damages During Settlement Negotiations
Since there is no judge to resolve controversy during settlement negotiations, the parties typically agree to use either the per diem method or the multiplier method.
The Per Diem Method
Under the per diem method, the parties agree to a daily amount for non-economic damages – $300, for example. Step two is to multiply the daily amount by the number of days of suffering — 180 days, for example. In this illustration, $300 X 180 days = $54,000 for non-economic damages.
The Multiplier Method
Under the multiplier method, the parties agree on a “multiplier,” typically between one and five. They then multiply the multiplier by the amount of economic damages. If the multiplier is three and economic damages are $20,000, for example, three is multiplied by $20,000 to yield $60,000.
Non-Economic Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are unique in the personal injury field.
The following non-economic damages may be available to the victim’s close relatives:
- Loss of care, support, advice, and counsel from the deceased
- The psychological grief and anguish experienced by the surviving family members
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, and society by the family members
Non-economic damages can be very high in wrongful death cases.
Litigation vs. Settlement
Most personal injury claims settle out of court. When they don’t, the reason is often that the defendant is unwilling to pay the amount of non-economic damages the victim asks for. One way of stimulating settlement after negotiations break down is to file a personal injury lawsuit. This move also ensures that you meet the statute of limitations deadline.
Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a trial. In fact, there won’t be if the defendant settles before a trial occurs. Filing a lawsuit gives the parties access to the pretrial discovery process, which typically generates a lot of new evidence. Either party can use this evidence to compel a settlement or force the withdrawal of the claim.
A Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Identify and Prove Your Non-Economic Damages
You might not realize how much your claim is worth unless you consult a Chicago personal injury attorney. Most personal injury lawyers won’t charge you a dime for an initial consultation in Illinois. In fact, most of them won’t charge you anything, ever, unless they win or settle your case.
If you need assistance with your personal injury case, you can reach out to Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys. We offer a free case review. Contact us today at (312) 726-1616 to get started.