Quality of Life
Personal injury accidents like car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and product liability accidents can significantly impact a victim’s life. Accident victims may be facing a daunting future full of expected medical expenses, a lost earning ability, and pain and suffering. They may also be able to recover compensation for their lost quality of life. Read on to learn more about this important form of compensation.
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Types of Damages
Damages represent the losses you have incurred because of the accident. These damages are usually divided into three general categories in Texas:
Economic damages represent the financial losses that you have experienced that can be quantified by a bill, invoice, or estimate. For example, common economic damages in a car accident claim may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and employment benefits
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle
Some types of economic damages are fairly straightforward to prove. For example, a repair estimate can indicate how much it will cost to fix your vehicle, and medical bills show how much you were charged for your medical expenses.
Other types of economic damages may be more complex to quantify. For example, showing how much your earning capacity was reduced because of a disabling injury may require hiring an economic or vocational expert who can testify about how your injuries may affect your future earning capacity.
Accident victims also have the right to be compensated for other losses they experience that might not be easily quantified. Texas law defines non-economic damages as damages awarded to compensate someone for any of the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional pain or anguish
- Physical impairment
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship and society
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Injury to reputation
The statute also includes a catchall provision that says non-economic damages compensate a person for “all other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages.”
The Texas Trial Lawyers Association says that non-economic damages are commonly called “quality of life” damages that may be just as important to the injured person as the losses that can be quantified.
The final category of damages in Texas is referred to as “exemplary damages” or “punitive damages.” Texas law defines exemplary damages are those that are awarded to a claimant as a penalty or punishment against the wrongdoer. The statute specifies that these damages are neither economic nor non-economic damages and are not intended to compensate the victim.
Exemplary damages are more likely to be awarded in cases involving gross negligence or recklessness, such as for punishment in a DUI car crash case.
Proving Non-Economic Damages
It is more difficult to prove the existence of non-economic damages than to prove economic damages. After all, you can submit a repair or medical bill to show what you were charged for your repairs or medical treatment. You can’t do the same for something like your quality of life.
How To Quantify Non-Economic Damages
Ultimately, it is up to juries or insurance adjusters to quantify non-economic damages. They may consider many factors to determine an appropriate amount of compensation for non-economic damages, including:
- The type and severity of injuries you suffered
- The medical treatment you had to undergo because of the injuries
- The future medical treatment you will require for your injuries
- The existence of permanent scarring or disfigurement
- The likelihood of long-term or chronic pain
- The length of recovery
- The emotional or mental trauma caused by your injuries
- Whether you suffered a permanent impairment or disability
- How your injuries have affected your life, relationships, and hobbies
- Fear, anxiety, and discomfort you experience because of the accident
- The total financial losses you sustained because of the accident and your injury
Non-economic damages vary in each case. A common method people use to estimate the value of non-economic damages is to multiply economic damages by a multiplier, usually of 1.5 to 5. The variable they use will depend on the seriousness of the damages, considering factors like those above.
For example, if the injuries included a traumatic brain injury that affects an accident victim’s ability to earn a living and their relationships with loved ones, will be a lifelong injury, and the victim will never fully recover, they may use a higher multiplier like 4 or 5. However, if the injury resulted in a simple fracture, the victim wore a cast for a couple of months, and the victim was able to return to work after a few weeks, the multiplier may be lower, like 1.5 or 2.
A personal injury lawyer will fight for you to recover fair compensation for your claim by arguing for a higher amount of compensation for your non-economic damages. If you need legal assistance, contact or call Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers today at (713) 500-5000 to get started with your case.