Among those accepted truths is that there are three types of damages that you could earn as a result of your accident.
Economic damages are often the only type paid in personal injury cases. These are totaled by adding the financial loss suffered as a result of the incident. Included on the list are things such as medical expenses, car repair, lost wages, and loss of property. These are tangible sums, meaning that they are clear-cut losses that can be directly tied to the accident that caused them.
The financial damages paid will cover those losses to lessen the devastating impact of the incident. Some of those expenses may have already occurred and others could be assumed future losses, such as the potential loss of future earnings.
When loss becomes harder to clearly define, non-economic damages come into play. These are losses that cannot be easily valued. For instance, you may be awarded a sum of money because of the pain and suffering that have been endured as a result of the accident. Emotional distress tied to the event, or the inability to enjoy life in the same way will also be considered when totaling non-economic damages.
Another commonly used term in personal injury cases is “loss of consortium,” which is a loss of companionship with one’s spouse. This is to say that the injured party has been harmed in a way that will make it physically or emotionally impossible for him to have a romantic or sexual relationship.
If the negligent party acted with complete disregard for others, then the court might deem it necessary to further punish that person or entity. Though not entirely uncommon, punitive damages are rarely awarded. Cases that see this type of damages are generally those involving a corporation or other large entity acting with disregard for public safety.
The amount paid in economic and non-economic damages may be considered a small sum when compared to the annual earnings of the organization, so the courts tack on an additional sum as further punishment to deter similar organizations from acting in such a way in the future. Most states have set a cap on punitive damages, but the sums can still be quite large.