When you suffer a personal injury, you may find yourself eligible for compensatory damages. These damages pay for expenses you’re out of pocket for, like medical bills and property damage. But you may also be eligible for non-economic damages. These are intangible losses that don’t have a direct dollar value, yet they significantly impact your life. A car wreck lawyer in Bryan, TX and Hempstead, TX can help you understand the full value of the non-economic damages in your case.
Understanding Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages represent non-financial losses that an injured person has suffered. In many cases, these damages are deeply personal and subjective and include things like emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment in life. Unlike economic damages which are quantifiable (e.g., medical expenses), non-economic damages don’t come with a straightforward price tag. This means they must be calculated.
Factors Influencing Non-Economic Damages in Texas
In Texas, as in many states, various factors are considered when determining the value of non-economic damages after a car wreck. Some of these factors include:
Severity and Duration of the Injury
A temporary injury that is common to humans and relatively straightforward to recover from, like a broken arm, is less likely to result in an award for significant non-economic damages. However, a permanent injury, especially one that alters the course of one’s life, can lead to quite high compensation for non-economic damages.
Impact on Daily Life
The effect of the injury on the plaintiff’s daily activities, hobbies, and general enjoyment of life is another crucial consideration. For example, if you were an avid runner, and an injury prevents you from ever running again, this could increase the value of your non-economic damages.
Emotional and Psychological Effects
The mental anguish or emotional distress caused by the injury can also determine the value of non-economic damages. This can range from depression and anxiety to post-traumatic stress.
Younger individuals might receive larger awards for non-economic damages due to the potential for longer-lasting effects from their injuries over their full lifetime.
Representation and Non-Economic Damages
Having excellent legal representation makes all the difference when you’re seeking non-economic damages. By effectively presenting your case and showcasing the depth of your non-economic losses, a skilled attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.
While no amount of money can truly compensate for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, achieving a fair settlement can provide a form of validation and relief for a victim. It’s our role to ensure that clients’ stories are heard and that they receive the compensation they rightly deserve.
Challenges in Quantifying Non-Economic Damages
The main challenge in determining non-economic damages is that they are subjective and hard to quantify. Unlike medical bills or lost wages, there’s no receipt, and there’s no way to attach a monetary value to pain, suffering, or loss of enjoyment in life. Several methods are typically employed in an attempt to quantify these intangible losses:
This involves taking the total economic damages and multiplying them by a certain number, usually between 1.5 and 5. The idea is that the more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier. This method, while common, has its drawbacks as it may oversimplify the complexities of individual suffering.
Per Diem Approach
This method assigns a specific dollar amount for each day the plaintiff suffers from the injury. For instance, if it’s determined that the pain and suffering are worth $100 a day and the injury lasts 300 days, the non-economic damages would be $30,000.
Impact on Life Activities
Sometimes, a value can be derived by evaluating how the injury has hampered regular activities.
Comparative Fault and Its Impact on Your Damages
In Texas, the doctrine of comparative fault applies in personal injury cases. This means that if an injured person is found to be partially at fault for their injury, the amount they can recover, including non-economic damages, can be reduced based on their percentage of fault. For instance, if a jury determines that you were 20% responsible for an accident, any awarded damages, both economic and non-economic, would be reduced by that percentage.
This factor can be particularly vital when it comes to non-economic damages. If a case involves high emotional distress or significant pain and suffering, the reduction due to comparative fault can significantly affect the total compensation you receive. That’s why you must work with a skilled car wreck lawyer familiar with the Bryan, TX and Hempstead, TX courts to ensure you aren’t unfairly saddled with more fault than you really bear for an accident. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to reduce their payouts by blaming victims.
Negotiations and Settlements
Many personal injury cases in Texas are settled outside of court. When it comes to non-economic damages, the negotiation process can be especially difficult, however. Both parties, the plaintiff and defendant, will present their views on the value of the non-economic damages, often leveraging evidence, witness testimonies, and previous cases to support their stance.
In these negotiations, our role is to emphasize the true extent of your pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages. A successful negotiation can lead to a fair settlement that adequately compensates you without the need for a lengthy court trial: and it all depends on the skill of your lawyer.
Jury Perception and Presentation
If a case goes to court, the jury alone will decide the noneconomic damages. Their perception of you, the presented evidence, and the overall case narrative will sway their decision, so it really matters how the case is presented. It’s your attorney’s job to ensure that the jury fully grasps the emotional and psychological toll of your injury, and doing so requires a combination of compelling testimony, clear presentation of evidence, and a logical, coherent narrative that ties the incident to its impacts on your life.
Considerations in Texas Law
The Texas Supreme Court recently issued new guidance on non-economic damages following two personal injury cases: Gregory v. Chohan and United Rentals v. Evans. In both instances, large awards were granted for pain and suffering. The Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas upheld these awards but sought clarity from the Texas Supreme Court on calculating non-economic damages.
Texas law currently mandates that there be evidence of mental suffering for non-economic damages but doesn’t explain how this evidence should be used in calculating the monetary value of the award. The Texas Supreme Court is anticipated to provide further direction on this soon, including guidance on comparing similar personal injury cases during appeals. Given the lack of clarity and subjective nature of these damages, though, the importance of working with a lawyer who has years of experience in personal injury in the Texas courts can’t be overstated.
Contact a Car Wreck Lawyer in Bryan, TX and Hempstead, TX Right Away
If you’re seeking to be fairly compensated for your noneconomic damages after an accident, the best hope for a successful outcome is having a dedicated legal team by your side; one that understands both the emotional trauma you’ve suffered and how the legal system works in Texas. If you or a loved one are grappling with the aftermath of an injury, reach out to Brian C. Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer today.