What are Noneconomic Damages & How Are They Determined?
You may have heard the term “pain and suffering” tied to personal injury claims like a slip and fall accident, but you may not know what it actually means.
This term falls under a larger category called noneconomic damages. There are three types of damages sought in most personal injury claims in South Carolina: (1) punitive damages, (2) economic damages, and (3) noneconomic damages. Of the three, noneconomic are the most elusive and can be tricky to understand in your lawsuit.
Let’s break down what noneconomic damages are and how they are calculated in claims like a slip and fall lawsuit.
How are Noneconomic Damages Different from Other Damages?
Punitive damages are clearly separate from the other two types of damages because they involve a fine placed on the at-fault party to act as a punishment for the negligent action to prevent these behaviors from happening again. On the other hand, economic and noneconomic damages require compensation to cover the losses resulting from a personal injury claim.
The damages that most people think of first in a claim are usually economic damages, sometimes called special damages. This type compensates someone for medical expenses, lost income, or other material expenses and losses that result from an incident.
Finally, noneconomic or general damages provide compensation that may not be due to financial expenses or losses. These damages encompass the mental, emotional, and psychological factors of a personal injury claim that aren’t easily calculated but are just as necessary to compensate as economic damages.
Types of Noneconomic Damages
- Physical impairment
- Mental Anguish
- Emotional Distress
- Loss of Society and Companionship
- Loss of Consortium
- Injury to Reputation
- Other nonpecuniary damages
- And any other damages, including fear of loss, illness, or injury
Determination of Noneconomic Damages
Personal injury claims are either resolved at trial or settled outside of court. If a lawsuit goes to trial, a judge and jury decide the amount of noneconomic damages awarded. However, most claims are settled out of court, and this means both parties enter into a settlement agreement for how much compensation is awarded. Noneconomic damages don’t have a limit for how much can be sought in South Carolina. Through this avenue, insurance companies have a couple of methods to calculate noneconomic damages.
- The Multiplier Method – The first, called the multiplier method, uses the amount of medical bills incurred and multiplies the total number by 1-5, depending on the injuries sustained.
- The Per Diem Method – The per diem method, on the other hand, calculates the number of days it took to recover fully and multiplies this by daily income or a more applicable number.
The more complex a case is, the trickier it is to navigate a personal injury claim. It’s easy to get lowballed by an insurance company in these situations. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure that the damages you suffered are calculated appropriately, giving you a fair settlement.