What are “Non-Economic Damages” Worth?
When it comes to damages in a lawsuit, maybe they should be called objective vs. subjective – or quantitative vs. qualitative – but the legal terms of art are economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are purely financial. They are documented by medical bills, paychecks, damage/repair estimates, and invoices for professional and paraprofessional services. As a result, economic damages are fairly simple to prove.
Non-economic damages are colloquially known as pain and suffering. They include emotional distress, mental anguish, depression, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life. All of these are more difficult to measure – and to prove.
But there’s more.
Under Florida Law, you’re not even entitled to pain and suffering damages resulting from an automobile accident unless you have sustained a significant permanent loss of an important bodily function, scarring, disfigurement, other permanent injury, or death.
Even then – assuming your case goes to trial – a jury must evaluate your damages and decide what they are worth. And not all juries are the same: some counties are notorious as “no-win zones” for plaintiffs while others historically show more sympathy for injured parties in the form of higher dollar awards.
Over time, lobbyists for the insurance industry and other groups have whittled away at the statutes that protect your rights in personal injury lawsuits by limiting non-economic damages in some instances, and they have also succeeded in several ways to make it more difficult to be compensated fully for your injuries.
For these reasons, it’s imperative for plaintiffs in all types of cases to keep and produce accurate records – and seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.