When you are in an accident, you may suffer personal or financial damages. As a result, you may be entitled to recover any costs or expenses associated with your losses. Georgia provides two different types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the financial result of an injury. Typically, economic damages include out-of-pocket costs, medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. Economic damages are usually easy to calculate because you’ll have evidence to prove them, such as pay stubs for lost wages and invoices and bills for expenses.
On the other hand, non-economic damages do not deal with your financial losses from your injury. Rather, non-economic damages are personal, intangible losses like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages cover losses that are more difficult to calculate than economic damages because there isn’t an invoice to prove the exact monetary amount. However, they should still be included in your claim, and you should be compensated for them.
For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you likely have bodily injuries and property damage. You might also have intangible damages to your psychological and emotional wellbeing. These psychological and emotional damages might manifest themselves in the form of you being unable to participate or engage in certain everyday activities that you regularly enjoyed before the accident.
Even though you can’t see these damages, you should still be compensated for them. A jury will usually decide how much your non-economic damages are worth based on your injuries and how they affect your life.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering: This can cover the ongoing and significant pain you might experience after your injury, during any later treatment, and while you are recovering.
- Emotional and mental anguish: This may include any emotional distress that results from the accident. For example, if you experience a severe and disfiguring injury, like a burn, you may be compensated for any emotional trauma you feel from these injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: After a serious injury, you may not enjoy your life as you did before your accident. For example, after serious car accidents, injured victims may not want to drive again, preventing them from exercising the level of freedom and enjoyment of life they had before their accident.
- Chronic pain: As a result of your injuries, you may experience ongoing and chronic pain that has lasting effects on your physical abilities. Sometimes this chronic pain is untreatable and will negatively affect you for the duration of your life.
- Loss of consortium: Unfortunately, you may not be the only person hurt by your injuries after a serious accident. Your spouse and children may also suffer a change in their relationship with you after the accident. For example, your intimacy with your spouse may be negatively affected by your injuries.
In a loss of consortium claim, the spouse of the injured victim might be entitled to non-economic damages.
How Do You Calculate Non-Economic Damages?
While a judge or jury may decide how much your non-economic damages are worth, most claims and cases are settled out of court without the need for a trial. Additionally, Georgia law generally does not place restrictions on non-economic awards.
It is important to understand how to calculate your non-economic damages because they may constitute a significant portion of your award.
One common method used to calculate non-economic damages is known as the “multiplier method.” With the multiplier method, you simply multiply the economic damages by a certain number (usually between 1.5 and 5) to calculate the non-economic damages.
The idea is that if you have substantial economic damages from the accident (i.e., medical bills), your pain and suffering are likely significant as well. While the multiplier method seems simple, the difficulty comes when figuring out what number to use as the multiple and why.
Per Diem Method
Another way to calculate non-economic damages is to use the “per diem method.” With the per diem method, you value your daily pain and suffering and multiply that number by all of the days you suffered or the number of days it took you to recover from your injuries.
The potential problem with the per diem method is that it doesn’t work well with chronic or permanent injuries because you can never fully recover.
What Factors Will A Court Consider When Calculating Non-Economic Damages?
Courts will consider many factors when calculating non-economic damages, such as:
- The severity of your injuries
- The length of time it took you to recover
- Any alteration in your physical appearance as a result of the injuries
- The effect of your injuries on your daily life
- Whether your injuries have caused major changes in your life
Contact a personal injury lawyer for help calculating your damages. Non-economic damage calculations often require the assistance of financial and medical experts. An experienced attorney will have access to leading experts who can help you build your case and get the maximum compensation you deserve. Call The King Firm for a free consultation today.