How to Evaluate Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits

Imagine the trauma of a catastrophic injury — the initial shock, the mounting medical bills, the inability to work, the pain, and the emotional turmoil. Amidst all the chaos, a competent injury lawyer can work to secure equitable compensation to help you get back on your feet. When someone suffers a catastrophic injury due to the negligence or intentional actions of another, the legal system allows you to recover two types of compensation – economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible, quantifiable financial losses. Non-economic damages include abstract concepts such as pain, suffering, and loss of companionship.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages refer to the quantifiable monetary losses and costs directly resulting from an injury. For catastrophic injuries, these losses are often significant and can include:

  • Medical Expenses: These include charges for an ambulance, emergency room, hospital stay, diagnostic testing, surgeries, medications, therapy, rehabilitation, and any future projected medical costs.
  • Lost Income and Earning Capacity: If the injury prevents the client from working temporarily or permanently, they can claim lost income. Moreover, if their ability to earn in the future is compromised due to disabilities resulting from the injury, they can claim loss of future earning capacity.
  • Home and Vehicle Modifications: Catastrophic injuries, especially those resulting in permanent disabilities, might necessitate modifications to the injured person’s home or vehicle to accommodate their changed physical capabilities.
  • Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation: Some injuries require prolonged or even lifetime care, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or professional caregiving.
  • Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses: This can include hiring help for household chores the client can no longer perform or specialized equipment they might need.

Economic damages aim to restore the injured person financially and place them in a position they’d have been in had the injury not occurred. While some of these costs are readily available (like past medical bills), others, such as future medical expenses or lost earning capacity, require expert projections and evaluations.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages, often called “general damages” or “intangible damages,” address the non-monetary setbacks and suffering a person endures due to a catastrophic injury. Unlike economic damages, which can be easily quantified through bills, receipts, and other financial records, non-economic damages are subjective, encompassing losses that do not have a direct monetary value but significantly impact the injured person’s life.

These damages can include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain, discomfort, and emotional distress the client endures post-injury.
  • Emotional Distress: Addresses the psychological impacts, ranging from anxiety, depression, and insomnia to post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Loss of Companionship: Compensation for the loss of intimacy or companionship in a relationship due to the injury.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This refers to the decreased enjoyment or fulfilment in life because of physical limitations, pain, or mental anguish stemming from the injury.
  • Physical Impairment: If the injury leads to permanent scars, disfigurement, or any other physical alterations.

Understanding these categories is crucial for the injured person and their families, as it offers insight into what they can recover in a lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been involved in a sudden accident and want to learn more about catastrophic injury lawsuits, give Vames, Wang & Sosa a call today for a free consultation.

Emery Wang

Emery Wang

Emery Wang has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2009. While attending Lewis & Clark law school, Emery worked as a Multnomah County District Attorney, and since then has been a full time personal injury lawyer.

Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.

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