What Are Non-Economic Damages in Texas?
Victims of accidents and other incidents that cause injuries sustain a variety of damages.
Damages include financial losses and expenses related to the accident and your injuries. However, damages also include the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident.
Pain and suffering damages or non-economic damages can equal a substantial portion of your personal injury claim.
Understanding more about non-economic damages and how to calculate pain and suffering damages can be helpful as you navigate the personal injury claims process.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Can I Recover from Pain and Suffering Damages?
Non-economic damages are available in all personal injury cases. You can claim damages for pain in suffering in personal injury cases involving:
- Defective products
- Car accidents
- Injuries on another party’s property
- Government vehicles
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
- And countless other incidents involving negligence, errors, and other wrongdoing that causes injuries to another person
An insurance company might attempt to convince you that you are not entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Do not trust the advice or opinion of an insurance adjuster or investigator. Always check with a personal injury lawyer to ensure you receive compensation for all damages, including non-economic damages.
What is Included in Non-Economic Damages in Texas?
According to the Texas code, non-economic damages compensate a victim for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional or mental anguish or pain
- Loss of consortium
- Physical impairment
- Loss of society and companionship
- Injury to reputation
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- All other non-economic losses other than punitive damages
Sadly, the long-term effects of a personal injury can change a person’s life forever. Many of the effects are not related to financial losses. They stem from the emotional, physical, and mental damages caused by the accident.For example, an accident victim could develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of the accident.
They might panic each time they need to ride in a car or they hear an ambulance.
They could experience debilitating PTSD symptoms that interfere with their work and personal life, such as flashbacks, night terrors, and altered moods.
Depression, anxiety, and other psychological injuries are also common examples of non-economic damages. These conditions can prevent a person from keeping a job or caring for their family. In many cases, the person experiences a severe decrease in their quality of life because of the accident.
Permanent impairments and disabilities can cause embarrassment, depression, pain, and psychological trauma. A person might require daily personal care and ongoing medical treatments.
What is the Value of Non-Economic Damages?
The value of non-economic damages varies by case. Many factors impact how much your pain and suffering damages are worth. Some factors that impact the value of pain and suffering damages include:
- The severity or extent of the injury
- Whether you sustained a permanent impairment or disability
- The length of your recovery after the injury
- Whether liability for the cause of the accident is in dispute
- The amount of insurance coverage available to pay the claim
- Whether you could be partially at fault for the cause of your injury
- The total financial losses you incurred because of the accident and injury
Most insurance companies and juries use the multiplier method for calculating the value of pain and suffering damages. A number between 1.5 and 5 is assigned based on the above factors and other relevant factors.
More severe cases receive a higher multiplier. For example, cases involving amputations, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain damage generally have higher multipliers than cases involving broken bones or whiplash.
The total of your economic losses is multiplied by the multiplier. The result is the value of your non-economic damages. If your multiplier is three and your total economic damages are $100,000, the value of your non-economic damages are $300,000. The insurance company tries to assign the lowest multiplier to your case.
Your accident lawyer uses the facts of your case to negotiate a higher multiplier. In a jury trial, the decision is left to the jury to assign a multiplier.
You can help your attorney argue for a higher multiplier by keeping a pain and suffering journal. In your journal, notate your daily pain level and any activities you cannot perform because of your injury. Make notes about your emotional and mental state, the suffering caused by the medical treatments, and how the injury impacts your relationships with your family and friends.
Even though medical experts can testify about the general suffering a victim is expected to experience because of the injury, your testimony can help convince the jury of the extent of your suffering. Your notes can help you recall specific things about your recovery that you might otherwise forget.
Does Texas Place a Cap on Non-Economic Damages?
In general, there are no caps on the compensation you can receive for non-economic damages in a personal injury case. However, there are some exceptions to the general rule.
Cases involving medical malpractice or a government entity have caps on compensation. Victims are limited in the amount of money they can receive for pain and suffering damages in these types of injury cases.
The amount of compensation you might receive for non-economic damages can also be lower in cases involving comparative fault. If you are judged to be partially responsible for the cause of your injury, the money you receive for pain and suffering damages could be reduced.
The comparative fault laws in Texas permit the court to reduce the compensation paid to a victim by the percentage of fault assigned to that victim for causing the accident. If the victim is 51 percent or more to blame for causing the accident, the victims cannot receive any compensation for any damages related to the accident.
Therefore, the value of your claim for non-economic damages could be reduced if your actions contributed to the cause of your injury.
Filing Claims for Compensation of Non-Economic Damages in Texas
Claims involving personal injury generally have a two-year filing deadline, including claims for pain and suffering damages. If you do not settle your claim or file a lawsuit before the deadline expires, you lose your legal right to pursue a claim through the courts. Some cases have shorter deadlines, such as cases involving government entities.
Therefore, it is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after an injury. You do not want to miss a deadline or make an error that could result in receiving far less than you deserve for the pain and suffering you experienced because of another party’s negligent acts.