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What’s the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

January 10, 2022

: Personal Injury

What’s the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

Personal injury is the legal term used to describe any case that involves injury to your body, mind, or emotions. If you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury case, you may be able to recover compensatory damages for the suffering you’ve endured. 

Usually, these compensatory damages consist of some combination of economic and non-economic damages. Below, we’ll clarify the difference between the two types of damages, as well as how a Columbia, SC lawyer can help you recover both of them.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages include any compensation you recover for the verifiable monetary losses that stem from your injury. Economic damages are sometimes referred to as “specific” damages because they’re concrete, can be readily documented, and are easily calculated — as long as you are diligent about saving all relevant bills and receipts. 

The most common form of economic damages is medical expenses, but can also include other specific, tangible monetary losses like:

  • Loss of past and future wages
  • Loss of business opportunities as the result of injury suffered
  • Costs of repairing or replacing damaged property
  • Costs of any domestic services that are necessary, but unable to be provided by the plaintiff due to injury
What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages refers to compensation for non-monetary losses that stem from your injury. The concept is a bit more subjective because it includes types of harm that’s value is intangible. These types of damages don’t have receipts or verifiable information, and so the value of them has to be assessed and argued for by your attorney. 

Non-economic damages can come in many forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Injury to reputation
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium (companionship of a spouse)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

Although non-economic damages can’t be measured monetarily, they are real challenges you may experience as a result of your injury. Therefore, the law considers them compensable and a dollar amount is subjectively assigned to each of them, depending on what the jurisdiction allows. 

There is no concrete rule for calculating the value of non-economic damages, so it’s up to the jury and judge to determine, based on relevant factors in the injury, like level of loss, degree of negligence, and projected effects on the plaintiff’s future. 

For pain and suffering, the most common non-economic damages, there are two methods that are frequently used to determine the value:

  • Multiplier method – The plaintiff’s economic damages are multiplied by a specific number, which is based on the injury and its impact on quality of life. For example, if the economic damages totalled $25,000, and the multiplier is 3, the value of damages for pain and suffering would total $75,000. 
  • Per diem – Calculates non-economic damages based on each day the plaintiff has suffered pain related to the injury. For example, if the plaintiff were to suffer permanent pain and suffering due to injury, a daily rate calculation could be made based on the judge’s or jury’s determination of a dollar amount for one day of damages, multiplied by the number of days remaining in that person’s life (using average life expectancy tables).
Is There a Limit for Non-Economic Damages In Columbia, SC?

Some states cap how much compensation you can recover when it comes to non-economic damages. South Carolina is not currently one of these states, and therefore there is no limit to monetary compensation you can be awarded.

However, there is one exception to this. In South Carolina, there is a non-economic damages limit for personal injury cases resulting from medical malpractice, which is $350,000 per claimant. 

Hire a Columbia, SC Lawyer to Help You Recover Damages

If you’re planning to file a personal injury claim, hiring a Columbia, SC lawyer can help you recover the damages to which you’re entitled. While economic damages are fairly easy to verify and receive, you may need help effectively communicating the complexities of your case to receive appropriate non-economic damages. This is where the knowledge of a trusted Columbia lawyer can be beneficial. 

The attorneys at Bernstein & Bernstein understand that every situation is multi-faceted, and the proper response should be just as complex, which is why we consider all possible damages when evaluating cases for our clients. To work with an attorney who cares about your experience and relieves the pain you survived, contact Bernstein & Bernstein today.

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