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What Are “Economic Damages” vs. “Non-Economic Damages”?

Personal injury accidents such as car crash accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that can physically, mentally, and emotionally incapacitate and traumatize victims.

Under personal injury tort law, when one is hurt by another’s wrong doing, the victim may file a claim for damages against the liable party. Damages are legally defined as the amount of money awarded to compensate the injured party. There are two main categories of damages: economic and non-economic damages:

Economic Damages:
Economic damages are damages that can be calculated from documents or records and usually involve medical bills and expenses (past and future), loss of wages and earnings  (past and future), future lost earning capacity and profits as well as damage to a person’s real and personal property, such as a damaged vehicle.

Non-Economic Damages:
Non-Economic damages usually refers  to  “Pain and Suffering” which is the legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury. Physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship and services) are some examples of Non-Economic damages.

Generally, economic damages are easier to prove because there are documents and records that can be calculated to determine the amount of medical bills, lost earnings and property damage. However, non-economic damages are subjective and require a different kind of analysis and proof to determine a monetary value since there are no specific records or documents that can be calculated as with economic damages.

Emotional Distress:
One very difficult type of non-economic damage to prove involves a claim for emotional distress. There are several components of emotional distress which may be unquantifiable such as:

  • Mental anguish
  • Depression
  • Fright
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Humiliation
  • Embarrassment
  • Physical pain

In order not to add further stress or anxiety to personal injury victims, it is strongly advisable to acquire the services of an attorney who is well-versed in damages. A qualified attorney will be able to vigorously fight on behalf of the injured party to ensure that they receive the recovery they are entitled to for both economic and non-economic damages.

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