If you’re involved in a car accident, you may be able to file for compensation. This can include recovering your medical expenses, property damage costs, and even lost wages.
However, did you know you may also be able to include non-economic damages in your lawsuit? Your pain, suffering, and mental anguish may also be recoverable, but how do you put a price on your emotional distress? You’ll also need to prove the accident is responsible for your mental anguish. Thankfully, there are a few legal strategies for proving non-economic damage.
What are Non-Economic Damages
Chances are you have a pretty good grasp of economic damages: these are damages with a visible price. Medical expenses come with bills you can calculate, and the same is true for property damage, whether it’s repairs or replacements. On the other hand, non-economic damages are intangible, meaning you can’t produce a bill or receipt with a written total for the damages.
So, what qualifies as non-economic damage? The list is extensive but can include the following—however, keep in mind that every item on the list may not apply to your personal injury case. You can’t randomly claim non-economic damages, you’ll need to show proof before an insurance company will consider your claim.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental pain
- Emotional anguish
- Physical disfigurement and scarring
- Physical impairment
- Loss of fertility
- Loss of sexual function
- Loss of a limb or amputation
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of quality of life
- Injury to reputation
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
Adding to the confusion, some non-economic damages like blindness may also be considered economic damages. You can claim some damages as both but for different reasons. Your blindness is economic damage in terms of expenses.
For example, if you require the use of a cane and/or service animal, The cost for these items makes them economic damages. However, the fear and confusion that often accompanies sudden blindness are considered non-economic damages.
Something else you should know: don’t confuse non-economic damages with punitive damages, as these are two very separate things. A judge or jury typically awards punitive damages. Punitive damage amounts vary and serve two primary purposes.
The compensation is meant to punish the defendant and serve as a warning. In other words, punitive damages work to discourage others from copying the defendant’s negligent actions.
How to Calculate Non-Economic Damages
A few factors go into calculating non-economic damages. Remember, you can’t pull out bills and receipts, non-economic damages don’t have an obvious value. Instead, the insurance company or judge/jury will consider a few factors:
- The severity of your injuries, they may also consider the type of injury
- How long it takes you to fully recover from the injury
- The type of medical treatment the injury requires
- How the injury impacts your life, including your relationships with friends and family
- If the injury will have a long-term or lasting impact on your life
If your accident occurs in Oklahoma, you don’t need to worry about compensation caps. As of 2019, the state doesn’t cap compensation amounts for non-economic damages. When it comes to economic damages, there is a cap, and what the cap is depends on the insurance provider.
Proving Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Proving something that only you are experiencing isn’t easy. After all, you can’t invite someone into your mind to experience your feelings and emotions.
So, how do you convince an insurance company or a jury that you’re experiencing mental anguish or any other type of non-economic damage?
While the process isn’t an exact science, and every personal injury case is different, there are a few things you can do to help support your claim.
Keep All Medical Records
Your medical records aren’t going to list your non-economic damages, but the documents do detail the type and extent of your injuries. Sometimes, the severity of your injuries provides a good place for the insurance company to start calculating your damages.
For example, if your injury is life-threatening or altering, the insurance company can determine whether its severity is enough to warrant a claim for pain and suffering.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is often private, so be careful what you jot down. In other words, don’t write down anything you’re not willing to share with strangers. The insurance adjuster and possibly a jury will be paging through the journal.
Instead of writing down your daily activities, think of it as a pain journal and document how you’re feeling each day, and rate your pain on a sliding scale. You know, like the one used by physicians when they ask you to rate your pain, one being less severe and 10 indicating excruciating agony.
Call Family, Friends, and Coworkers as Witnesses
Sometimes, no one knows you better than your loved ones. You may need their testimony to help support your non-economic damages claim. They can testify about how your life has changed since the accident, along with the difficulties you’re experiencing.
You may also need to call on your physician and other medical professionals to testify to the severity of your injuries. Your physician can also help support your claim of being in constant pain and anguish. The more people who can support your claim, the stronger your case will be.
Save Receipts for Pain Medication
Go back to your medical records; hopefully, you’re saving all of your receipts. If you’re prescribed pain medication, grab the receipts. Even if you’re only purchasing over-the-counter pain relievers, keep the receipts. This can help support your claim of being in constant pain.
You Can Receive Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering
When you’re injured in an accident, you may have more than economic damages. Sometimes, non-economic damages are pushed to the side since they’re intangible. However, your pain and suffering shouldn’t be ignored.
Mental anguish can have a devasting effect on your life, and you deserve compensation for your potential pain and suffering. Since calculating non-economic damages is a complex process, talk to a personal injury attorney about your case.
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