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Car Accidents Legal Information: Economic & Non-Economic Damages

Getting involved in a car accident may cause considerable damage to the parties involved. These damages or injuries to the persons or personal property must be adequately included in the claim and can be classified as economic and non-economic. To properly assess the damages to be claimed, it is crucial to know how these damages or injuries are classified, their definition, and how they are calculated. Generally, there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic, and they can be classified as follows.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages can be easily verified by reviewing supporting documents showing exactly how much damage or monetary costs are incurred by the claimant due to the injuries or damages caused or exacerbated by the car accident.

Some of the economic damages may include:

  • Medical Expenses

These are costs incurred by a person for medical-related services or medication for any ailment, illness, or injury caused or exacerbated by the car accident.

  • Loss of Use of Property

This damage applies when the regular use of a property has been disrupted due to the accident. A typical example of this claim is when an owner is deprived of using their car because of the accident.

  • Cost of Repair or Replacement

This type of damage pertains to the cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle damaged by a car accident. This claim also applies to property damage other than the vehicle damaged by the car accident, and such damaged property may include items inside the vehicle when the accident occurred.

  • Loss of Wages or Business Opportunity

This claim referred to the loss of wages when a person involved in a car accident had to miss work due to the injuries they sustained from the car accident. This claim applies to all workers, such as traditional employees, self-employed workers, independent contractors, or even sole proprietors. Claiming this damage entails having to prove the actual wages or income lost. Generally, traditional employees and contractors can present their pay stubs or 1099 forms as proof of income. In comparison, sole proprietors can submit bank statements, profits and loss documents, or other financial documents showing lost earnings or business opportunities for missing work due to the injuries sustained from the accident.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are those that generally center on the emotional, psychological trauma or loss of consortium that is caused by accident. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages may be challenging to prove since no direct monetary amount is tied to calculating someone’s emotional and mental trauma. Nonetheless, these injuries are accurate and are qualified to be filed for the claim.

Some of the non-economic damages may include the following:

  • Pain and Suffering

This claim generally applies to physical, emotional, or mental pain and suffering incurred by a person because of a car accident. This type of injury involves the victim experiencing ongoing pain caused by the car accident.

Some examples of pain and suffering damage may include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Embarrassment
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Grief
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium would be the deprivation of a family relationship benefits due to the injuries caused by the car accident. This claim is meant to compensate the spouse or domestic partner of the person injured in the car accident. Thus, this type of claim is typically filed by the spouse or domestic partner of the car accident victim.

Some of the injuries under the loss of consortium include:

  • Marital issues stemming from the effects of the car accident
  • Loss of companionship due to the death of a person involved in a car accident
  • Sexual limitations due to the injuries sustained by an individual caused by the car accident
  • Infertility suffered by the injured individual due to the car accident
  • Inability to participate in activities that used to be enjoyed by the couple

This type of claim is generally hard to quantify since the injuries refer to experiences instead of being tied to a specific monetary value. Note that the damages listed above are not comprehensive and are subject to specific rules by your state or jurisdiction. Any damages or injuries you may have incurred from a car accident not listed above may be classified as valid damages. Therefore, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer in your state to discuss all the injuries and damages you and your property may have incurred and how they are classified as damages.

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Sources

  • King, J. H. (2004, January). Pain and Suffering, Noneconomic Damages, and the Goals of Tort Law. SMU Law Review. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://scholar.smu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2080&context=smulr
  • Cornell Law School. (n.d.). 42 U.S. Code § 14505 – definitions. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/14505
  • Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Loss. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/loss
  • Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Pain and suffering. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/pain_and_suffering