What are Non-Economic Damages?

Two types of damages can be awarded in personal injury lawsuits, non-economic and economic. When someone is injured, he or she may be unable to return to work, have astronomical hospital bills or other direct costs associated with an injury, such as physical therapy and home modifications. These are considered economic damages: you can directly put a price on them.

Non-economic damages are sometimes referred to as “pain and suffering damages”. A hypothetical story can highlight what non-economic damages are and why they are important.

Catherine is a 19-year-old college volleyball player who has everything going for her. She has perfect grades, a great family, a boyfriend and plenty of friends. On a trip back to see her family during the holidays, a distracted driver slams into Catherine’s vehicle, sending it into a rollover. Several days later, Catherine awakens in a hospital surrounded by nurses and doctors. They tell her she has suffered a C2 spinal cord injury and is now a quadriplegic. Incapable of movement below the neck, Catherine will require a ventilator to breathe. Doctors tell her she may need to be moved to a nursing home. Unable to return to college, see her friends or carry on a relationship, the girl who had it all has lost almost everything.

Why Are Non-Economic Damages Important?

Try to imagine the emotional pain of going from an independent, athletic college student to someone who will depend on others for the rest of his or her life. That person’s pleasure of living, his or her quality of life, will be forever reduced. Non-economic damages offer some compensation for the pain, suffering and loss victims of accidents often go through, and that is why they are so important.

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