An accident can cause many different types of losses — physical injury, medical bills, lost work time, and emotional distress, to name a few. Most personal injury claimants seek two different types of compensation – economic damages and non-economic damages.
To put it simply, economic damages are losses that are easy to count, while non-economic damages are difficult to court. It is easy to count medical bills, for example, but not so easy to count pain and suffering.
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Examples of Non-Economic Damages
Following are some examples of the many different types of non-economic damages available from Missouri courts in personal injury cases.
Pain and Suffering Damages
The term “pain and suffering damages” refers to the pain and anguish that you suffer as a direct consequence of a physical injury. It would include, for example, the pain resulting from a broken arm or a whiplash injury. It would also include the claustrophobia of being immobilized in traction for a couple of weeks. Pain and suffering damages often amount to well over 50% of the total amount of personal injury award.
Mental and Emotional Anguish
Mental anguish includes emotional humiliation and shock that you might experience as a consequence of an accident. In Missouri, you can receive compensation for this type of non-economic damages without an accompanying physical injury, but you’ll have to prove a different set of legal elements. In most cases, this anguish will be a result of a physical injury.
When you suffer an accident, you are often subjected to many different kinds of inconveniences. You might spend time in the hospital, you might go to many doctor’s appointments, and you might need to send many emails and fill out many forms. These are all losses for which you can claim compensation, although they may be dwarfed by the size of other aspects of your claim.
Loss of Consortium
If your spouse dies or suffers a debilitating injury in an accident, they will no longer be able to provide you with love, companionship, intimacy, and sexual relations that are common and expected among married couples. Missouri recognizes this claim as a “loss of consortium.”. If you find your spouse unable to provide for your intimacy needs because of an accident caused by someone else, your might have a valid loss of consortium claim.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Because of your injuries, you can no longer enjoy hobbies that you used to enjoy. You might no longer:
- go bowling with your friends
- attend social events;
- go to the gym; or
- take a walk around the block.
Missouri classifieds these damages as “loss of enjoyment of life” damages, and they can be worth quite a lot under certain circumstances.
Imagine that you suffered disfiguring injuries because of a car accident. These injuries resulted in permanent and obvious scarring on your face or loss of a limb. Simply reimbursing you for your medical bills is insufficient compensation since you will have to suffer your disfigurement for the rest of your life. Disfigurement damages compensate you, at least to the extent that mere money can compensate for such a loss.
To Contrast: Examples of Economic Damages
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost earnings;
- Child care expenses while you are recovering from your injuries; and
- Housekeeping expenses (if you had to hire a housekeeper because of your injuries).
Economic damages can include many other expenses, including trivial expenses such as parking fees at the doctor’s office.
Courts award punitive damages rarely, only when the defendant’s conduct was so outrageous that the court wants to make an example out of them. Judges usually don’t award punitive damages even when the victim wins the case.
Wrongful Death Damages
If someone dies in a Missouri accident, certain relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages for the deceased’s probate estate in addition to their own economic and non-economic losses damages. Non-economic damages might include:
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased victim; and
- Loss of services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support from the deceased victim.
Missouri law allows only certain parties to file wrongful death claims.
Missouri Caps on Non-Economic Damages
The Missouri Supreme Court, in Ordinalo Velazquez v. University Physician Associates, et al., ruled that damages caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are constitutional. Non-economic damages caps in these types of cases started at $400,000 for “non-catastrophic” injuries and $700,000 for catastrophic injuries.
These limits increase automatically on an annual basis, but they only apply to medical malpractice claims. There is no cap on non-economic damages for claims based on other theories of liability (car accidents, slip and fall accidents, etc.)
Contact a Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, even if only by telephone. The lawyer will ask you questions and provide you with an evaluation of your case. If your case seems strong, they may seek to represent you. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis, MO is probably the best way to discover the true value of your claim. Your claim might be worth more than you think it is. Contact us at (314) 444 4444