If you have been involved in a serious car accident, there is a good chance that you will need extensive medical treatment, physical therapy, and/or occupational therapy to get you back on your feet. Medical treatment and hospital or nursing home stays are expensive, and you deserve to recover compensation – even if your health insurance covers some or all of these bills. You also deserve to be compensated for any and all income that you’ve lost because you were or are unable to work.
Payment of your medical bills and lost wages, however, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to personal injury damages. In addition to recovering these , you may also be eligible to recover in your case. This is particularly true if you sustain permanent injuries in your car accident. Noneconomic damages are those which cannot be measured strictly in dollars and cents, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
No one asks to be involved in a serious car accident, much less injured. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation. The Chicago lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can discuss the facts of your case with you and explore the different types of economic and noneconomic damages that may be available. Our lawyers can then pursue monetary compensation on your behalf, via settlement, trial, or alternative dispute resolution.
The Purpose of Noneconomic Damages
Many times, when people are involved in serious car accidents, they only focus on their physical damages and medical treatment. However, a serious car accident can also take a major toll on a person’s daily living, emotional well-being, and mental health. This is where noneconomic damages come into play. The main purpose of noneconomic damages is to compensate accident victims for the intangibles, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish resulting from injuries sustained in a serious car accident.
Types of Noneconomic Damages
Noneconomic damages are very personal and case-specific. Consequently, they are more difficult to calculate in dollars and cents than economic damages are. When serious car accidents result in long-term personal injuries, the amount and duration of noneconomic damages is likely to be very high. Some of the most common types of noneconomic damages that may be available to you in your case include:
- Past, present, and future pain and suffering – The purpose of pain and suffering damages is to compensate you for all of the past, present, and future pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of use, and loss of enjoyment of life that you have suffered – and will continue to suffer – as a result of your injuries. For example, if you can no longer take part in a favorite sporting activity or have difficulty with basic household or lifestyle tasks (e.g., showering, cooking, cleaning), you may be able to recover pain and suffering damages.
- Mental anguish and emotional distress – If, as a result of the accident and your injuries, you have suffered psychological harm, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety, you may be able to recover compensation for all related counseling, psychological, or psychiatric treatment. In most cases, in order to prove these damages, a mental health provider must be able to causally relate your condition to the accident, as opposed to some preexisting mental condition.
- Loss of earning capacity – An accident victim may be eligible to recover loss of earning capacity damages in cases where he or she must change jobs – or even whole careers – as a result of injuries sustained in a serious car accident. The same is true if the accident victim is unable to work at all, in which case he or she may also be able to recover disability benefits. The accident victim may also be eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation and training and support.
- Loss of consortium – An accident victim may be able to recover compensation for loss of spousal support if he or she cannot be intimate with a spouse, as a result of injuries sustained in an accident. The accident victim may also be able to recover damages for his or her inability to spend time with family – especially children and grandchildren – as a result of the injuries sustained.
Proving Noneconomic Damages
Unlike economic damages, noneconomic damages are very fact-specific and can be difficult to calculate and prove. In serious car accident cases that involve permanent impairments or long-term pain and suffering, some attorneys will advance a per diem (or per-day argument) when trying to arrive at a noneconomic damage figure. Other attorneys may figure out the injured accident victim’s life expectancy, consider the plaintiff’s injuries, and consult a mortality table to arrive at a damages figure.
In many serious car accident cases, witness testimony is necessary to prove that an injured accident victim is entitled to noneconomic damages. Expert witnesses may include doctors and vocational rehabilitation experts. A doctor may able to testify that a person’s medical or mental condition is permanent and that he or she will have to suffer from the injury or condition for the rest of his or her life. A vocational rehabilitation expert may be able to testify that an accident victim will have to wait a certain period of time before returning to work – or that the person can never work again due to the injuries sustained.
Lay witness testimony, including the testimony of family members, friends, church members, and co-workers, can also be helpful when it comes to proving noneconomic damages. These individuals may be able to testify that the accident victim was healthy and active before the car accident, but that, in their observation, the accident victim’s physical condition and ability levels sharply declined after the car accident.