Suffering an injury as a result of another person’s negligence can turn your life around for the worse. Fortunately, the law provides avenues where you can seek compensation.

Damages in a personal injury case come in two forms: economic and non-economic damages. The total damages awarded usually come as a combination of the two, but the amount may vary depending on your state.

Considering the complexities of personal injury cases and the uncertainties of the amount you may receive as damages, understanding economic vs. non-economic damages in claims is not only advisable but also necessary for anyone looking to get fair compensation.

In that regard, we’ve compiled a guide to help you understand the difference between the two, along with some helpful information to help you gauge the amount of compensation you can recover from a personal injury case.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are the tangible monetary damages incurred as a result of an accident. Their tangible nature arises from the fact that they are easily documented and calculated, making them significantly easier to prove in court.

Some of the most common economic damages in a personal injury case include:

  • Hospital Bills: Hospital bills account for the majority of economic damages awarded in a claim. They include everything from the cost of the initial hospital stay to any further treatment-related costs you incur due to injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Lost Wages: Serious injuries may leave you unable to work for several days, months, or even years. In some cases, you may be unable to return to work entirely.
  • Property Damage: Damages in a personal injury case are not always physical. In some cases, like car accidents, the victim’s property incurs significant damage, which may cost a lot of money to repair or leave them totally inoperable.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are subjective in nature, making them nearly impossible to put a price tag on. Some of the most common non-economic damages awarded in a personal injury claim include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium

Non-economic damages are awarded as a form of reprieve to the victim for the pain, suffering, and other distressing issues experienced as a consequence of the injury.

In What Circumstances Are Economic and Non-Economic Damages Available?

Most successful personal injury claims end with the victim being awarded both economic and non-economic damages, but they always need to be proven. In this regard, economic damages are much easier to prove since you need only your receipts and a record of any out-of-pocket expense incurred as a result of your injuries, loss of income, or property damage.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are much harder to prove. In most cases, victims give their account of the accident, providing relevant details on how the accident affected the quality of their lives. These details should give the jury enough information to justify the provision of damages.

How Much Compensation Can You Receive?

The amount of economic and non-economic damages awarded in any personal injury case comes down to the severity of injuries incurred and relevant state and federal laws pertaining to the case.

Additionally, states including Hawaii, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, and Nebraska have a cap on non-economic damages. There’s also a federal cap of $750,000 on non-economic damages.

Most states also have a cap on punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the court finds the defendant’s actions unconscionable. Therefore, these are meant to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to other individuals engaging in related offenses. While there’s no set sum, the law stipulates that the amount of punitive damages awarded should not exceed four times the amount of compensatory damages.

How to Claim Damages

In most personal injury cases where there is sufficient evidence against the defendant, their insurers are willing to negotiate a settlement immediately. Unfortunately, the settlement offered is significantly lower than the amount deserved.

Considering the fact that accepting a settlement from an insurance company hurts your chances of seeking a higher settlement in the future, it’s advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in the negotiation process.

Personal injury attorneys typically start by investigating the accident in order to come up with an appropriate amount for damages. By leveraging their experience and evidence at hand, an attorney can help you negotiate a more suitable settlement.

However, there’s always a chance that both parties won’t come to an agreement. In such scenarios, the case goes to court, where you get a chance to present your evidence and argue your case in front of a jury. Besides filing a motion with the court, your attorney will also present the specific amount of damages you seek.

How to Maximize Compensation in a Personal Injury Case

While having an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process may help you negotiate a more suitable settlement, you can do a number of things to maximize the compensation you get for your injuries. For instance, you should:

  • Investigate the accident extensively and gather all necessary evidence, including photos, CCTV footage, and police reports
  • Seek medical treatment immediately and keep a record of the cost of treatment
  • Seek psychiatric help for any emotional damage suffered
  • Ask for a specific amount
  • Don’t grant the opposing party access to your medical records unless ordered by the court

Maximize Your Compensation With a Personal Injury Lawyer

Anyone involved in an accident that resulted in injuries due to another party’s negligence or willful conduct deserves to be compensated. This compensation typically comes in two forms and may vary depending on your state and the specifics of the case.

To maximize your chances of getting adequately compensated, you should investigate the accident, keep all relevant receipts, and work with an experienced personal injury attorney to help you negotiate a suitable settlement.