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What are Economic and Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

Medical Bills folder with "Past Due" stamp on it

One of the most important questions our clients should know is the difference between economic and non-economic damages in personal injury cases. A personal injury case is one that includes some type of injury or harm done on to a person or their personal property. A personal injury case oftentimes includes two types of damages, specifically economic and non-economic damages.

Usually, personal injury cases take place as a result of defendant’s negligence. Defendant acted in a way that deviated from the standard of care and caused damages onto Plaintiff. Although there are different methods of being compensated, not every type of damage is the same. Personal injury cases are categorized into two different types of damages.

What are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are also known as specific damages. Economic damages are meant to put plaintiff in a position that they would have been in to be compensated from the loss of the accident. For example, any out-of-pocket expenses that have been paid out as a result of an injury would fall under economic damages that should be reimbursed. This type of damage has a specific monetary number and is somewhat easier to quantify and calculate in court that non-economic damages. When there has been a personal injury accident, the plaintiff first pays out of pocket for all their injuries because injuries should be treated immediately. After receiving treatment, plaintiff then has the ability to pursue reimbursement from the defendant.

Examples of economic damages include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Loss of past earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Cost to repair the personal property
  • Loss of future business opportunities
  • Value of services rendered
  • Utility bills
  • Physical therapy

How Do I Prove Economic Damages?

Oftentimes, experts such as doctors or injury treaters testify to discuss how much a cost of the injury would be. For example, a doctor may discuss what a future shoulder surgery would cost if plaintiff suffered a shoulder injury as a result of the accident. The expert would need to prove their credibility by showing the number of years they have been in practice. Our attorneys will work with the health departments and their billing staff to be able to retrieve documents and records that itemized the cost for such injuries that have been suffered as a result of the accident.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys advise that clients maintain a record of all their costs associated with the personal injury accident. For example, all clients should keep all records and receipts to be able to be reimbursed for all costs. Failure to do so may make the damages harder to prove. All economic damages are calculated together when the above costs are added. Other evidence that could be brought in includes invoices such as the cost to repair the personal property that has not yet been prepared. Economic damages, however, could be limited depending on the jurisdiction you are located in. For example, in comparative fault jurisdictions, if plaintiff is found negligent, then they must receive a smaller portion of the economic damages alleged. For more information on California and Nevada comparative negligence laws, please contact our team. Other states, when plaintiff is at fault for more than 50% of their injuries, plaintiff could not even recover any type of economic damages.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are those that cannot easily be calculated and do not have a solidified number a plaintiff must be reimbursed. The amount of non-economic damages that could be received depend on the state you are located in. The federal law mandates that non-economic damages should not be more than 10 times the amount of economic damages. Oftentimes, non-economic damages are considered to be subjective since it depends on what the plaintiff has gone through. It depends on the plaintiff’s emotions and mental thinking.

Examples of non-economic damages include:

For example, if the economic damages are $100,000, then the non-economic damages should not exceed more than 1 million. However, plaintiff must really work to prove the non-economic damages. Since it is very subjective, it’s up for the jury to decide if there has in fact been non-economic damages suffered. Oftentimes, when there has been some type of physical manifestation that has occurred as a result of the emotional distress, the jury is more likely to reward non-economic damages. It is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to be able to show and prove up the economic and non-economic damages suffered. Those attorneys who may not have experience in dealing with personal injury may try to downplay any other mental distress. Whereas our attorneys try to understand the entire situation and determine the amount of damages and the types of damages that could result from a lawsuit.

Economic and non-economic damages could be received through either a settlement or a lawsuit in court. The settlement should only be achieved if the insurance company offers an amount that would adequately reimburse you for your loss. It is very important to retain an attorney because not retaining counsel could potentially end up in obtaining a lower amount than expected. For example, one who does not have an attorney may be more prone to accept a lower amount offered by the insurance company.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been involved in an accident were you have suffered some type of personal injury or property damage, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys to assist in recovering compensation for the damages. Our personal injury attorneys take a look at your case and determine with the best legal strategy would be and help you understand the law and what type of case you will be potentially bringing against another party. Our attorneys will make sure that you are fairly compensated for your damages in calculate the amount of damages that you could potentially have.

Our attorneys advise that during car accidents our clients should refrain from speaking to insurance companies to prevent any type of miscommunication or low offers. Many people, before obtaining an attorney, negotiate with insurance companies. A well-qualified Los Angeles personal injury attorney could inform you of your rights end amount of damages you deserve.

During our free no cost consultation, our personal injury attorneys will work to determine what type of damages you have suffered. For example, if you have medical bills it would fall under economic damages. If you suffer from some type of PTSD as a result of the accident, it would fall under non-economic damages. Our legal team will work to determine how much those damages could result around.

Contact us today at Heidari Law Group for a free case evaluation. 1-833-225-5454

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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