Understanding What Non-Economic Damages Are in Personal Injury Claims

When a person is injured in an accident caused by another person, Virginia law allows them to pursue legal action against that party to recover financial compensation for the losses the injuries have caused them. These losses are referred to as “damages.” Economic damages have an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Another type of damage that your Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain for you is non-economic damages.

Non-economic damages compensate victims for intangible losses that are difficult to quantify in monetary terms but significantly impact their quality of life and well-being. Unlike economic damages, which reimburse measurable financial losses, non-economic damages address subjective harms and losses related to pain, suffering, and emotional distress. The following is an overview of some of the most common non-economic damages awarded to victims. For more specific information, call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages compensate plaintiffs for the physical pain, discomfort, and emotional distress caused by the injury and its aftermath. These damages consider:

  • Physical pain: Compensation for the actual physical pain and discomfort experienced by the plaintiff due to the injury. This includes acute pain from injuries such as fractures, burns, or soft tissue damage, as well as chronic pain resulting from long-term conditions or permanent injuries.
  • Emotional distress: Damages for the emotional impact of the injury, such as anxiety, depression, fear, insomnia, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional distress can result from the trauma of the accident itself, the pain of recovery, or the psychological effects of long-term disabilities or disfigurement.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for the loss of ability to participate in activities or hobbies the plaintiff enjoyed before the injury. This may include limitations on physical activities, social interactions, or personal pursuits due to the injury’s effects.

Quantifying pain and suffering damages is subjective and varies based on the individual circumstances of each case. Plaintiffs may present evidence such as medical records, testimony from healthcare providers, and personal accounts to support their claims. Evidence can also include from friends and family, personal journals documenting lifestyle changes, or expert opinions.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress damages specifically address the psychological impact of the injury or incident on the plaintiff’s mental well-being. This category of damages may include:

  • Mental anguish: Compensation for the mental anguish, trauma, or psychological suffering experienced by the plaintiff as a result of the injury.
  • Humiliation or embarrassment: Damages for feelings of shame, embarrassment, or humiliation caused by visible injuries, scarring, or disabilities resulting from the incident.
  • Loss of consortium: In Virginia, most forms of personal injury cases do not allow for loss of consortium, but in limited types of Virginia cases when it might be applicable, where the injury affects the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse or family members, damages may be awarded for the loss of companionship, affection, or support.

Evidence supporting emotional distress damages may include psychiatric evaluations, therapist reports, medications prescribed for psychological symptoms, and testimony from mental health professionals.

Companionship and Lost Household Services

In Virginia, wrongful death cases are governed by statutes, including the damages which may be recovered. These wrongful death damages recognize the impact of the injury on familial relationships and may include:

  • Loss of companionship: Compensation for the emotional and social impact of the deceased person’s inability to participate in family activities or relationships.
  • Loss of household services: Damages for the inability to contribute to household chores, childcare, or other essential family responsibilities.

These damages are usually only applicable to wrongful death cases in Virginia.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Help

Unlike economic damages, which are based on tangible evidence and financial records, proving non-economic damages often relies on subjective testimony, expert opinions, and the credibility of the plaintiff’s narrative. Proving these damages can be complex and usually requires the skill of an experienced Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation. Our firm is dedicated to getting our clients the financial compensation they deserve, which is why our attorneys have recovered more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts.