Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are a type of compensation awarded in personal injury cases. They are intended to compensate the plaintiff for non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Unlike economic damages, which can be easily quantified and calculated, non-economic damages can be more difficult to assess. In this article, we will discuss the methods used to calculate the value of non-economic damages and the factors that are taken into consideration.
The multiplier method is one of the most common methods used to calculate non-economic damages. This method involves multiplying the plaintiff’s economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) by a number, known as the multiplier, to estimate non-economic damages. The multiplier is typically between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injury and the impact it has had on the plaintiff’s life.
The multiplier method is based on the idea that non-economic damages should be proportional to economic damages.
The higher the economic damages, the higher the multiplier and, therefore, the higher the non-economic damages. For example, if a plaintiff has economic damages of $50,000 and a multiplier of 3, their non-economic damages would be estimated at $150,000.
Per Diem Method
Another method used to calculate non-economic damages is the per diem method. This method involves determining a daily rate for non-economic damages and multiplying it by the number of days the plaintiff has suffered as a result of their injury.
The daily rate can be based on the plaintiff’s occupation, their standard of living, and the severity of their injury.
For example, if a plaintiff has suffered from a severe injury that has caused them to miss a year of work and their daily rate for non-economic damages is $200, their non-economic damages would be estimated at $73,000. This method is often used in cases where the plaintiff’s injuries are expected to have a long-term impact on their life.
Factors Considered in Calculating Non-Economic Damages
When calculating non-economic damages, several factors are taken into consideration. These include:
- The nature and severity of the injury: The more severe the injury, the higher the non-economic damages.
- The impact on the plaintiff’s quality of life: If the injury significantly impacts the plaintiff’s ability to enjoy life, the non-economic damages will be higher.
- The plaintiff’s age: If the plaintiff is older, they may be more susceptible to the long-term effects of the injury, which will be considered when calculating non-economic damages.
- The plaintiff’s occupation: If the injury has prevented the plaintiff from performing their job, the non-economic damages will be higher.
- The plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions: If the plaintiff has pre-existing conditions that have been made worse by the injury, the non-economic damages will be higher.
Overall, calculating non-economic damages can be a complex process. It involves taking into account a wide range of factors and using one of the methods discussed above to arrive at an estimate.
It is important to note that non-economic damages are not intended to provide a windfall for the plaintiff but rather to compensate them for the losses they have suffered as a result of the injury.
Other Calculations for Non-Economic Damages
It is also worth noting that the methods discussed here are not the only ways for calculating non-economic damages, and each jurisdiction might have different approaches. Some courts may use a combination of these methods or may have their own unique methodologies.
It is important to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action and help you to understand the process of calculating non-economic damages.
Furthermore, it is also worth noting that non-economic damages are not always awarded in personal injury cases. The plaintiff must be able to prove that their injuries were the result of the defendant’s negligence or wrongful conduct. Some jurisdictions even have caps on non-economic damages.