Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Under the laws of most states, including California, a victim can receive compensation for both economic (sometimes referred to as actual) damages as well as non-economic (sometimes referred to as pain and suffering) damages. Economic damages are things that have an actual cash value at the time that the lawsuit is settled. Examples of economic damages are: past and future medical expenses; lost wages or earnings; damage to real property; damage to personal property; and loss of personal property. This is not an exclusive list, but gives you an example of what is meant by economic damages. As you can see, a medical bill has an actual dollar amount attached to it that you can present to a jury. Likewise, if your car has been damaged or totaled, you can submit an actual estimate of the cost of repairs or replacement to a jury. Income lost from work due to the accident can also easily be calculated and submitted to a jury. But what about those intangible damages that don’t have an objective dollar amount attached to them? What about all the pain you went through after the accident – or maybe are still suffering from? What about the emotional distress the accident caused? These fall into the category of non-economic damages under the laws of torts in the State of California and determining a dollar amount to attach to non-economic damages in California is solely at the discretion of the jury.
Under the laws of the State of California, non-economic damages may include the following: physical pain – both past an future; physical impairment; mental suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; disfigurement; emotional suffering; inconvenience; grief; anxiety;humiliation;and loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship and services). In the State of California, juries are instructed what must be established by a preponderance of the evidence in order to award damages for non-economic damages. In reality, a jury’s decision to award pain and suffering damages, and their decision regarding how much to award, is a very subjective matter. Once a jury has decided that non-economic damages are warranted in a particular case, they then must decide if the amount asked for by the victim is “reasonable”. This can be a very broad term when it comes to damage awards. A jury has a considerable amount of latitude in deciding whether a damage award is reasonable. Obviously, if the victim has suffered catastrophic injuries, then a high damage award may seem reasonable on its face. On the other hand, if the actual, or economic, damages are low and it appears as though the victim’s injuries were not severe, then a demand for a high non-economic damages award may seem unreasonable on its face. The amount of non-economic damages awarded in a personal injury case in California frequently boils down to the story that your attorney tells to the jury. If you have documented your journey to recovery well and your attorney is able to convince a jury that you actually suffered, or continue to suffer, then you are more likely to receive non-economic damages as part of your damage award.
As you can see, having the right California Personal injury lawyer on your side can make all the difference. An experienced California personal injury lawyer knows how to tell your story and how to get you the compensation that you deserve for the injuries you have suffered. If you have been in an accident, and are looking for someone to fight for you, then contact the offices of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit them online at www.ledgerlaw.com