Catastrophic Injuries and Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages

May 18, 2018

In Pennsylvania, if you have been injured in an accident (due to another’s fault) and those injuries are sufficiently severe that your ability to enjoy life has been affected, then you may be entitled to recover “loss of enjoyment of life” (LEL) damages.  Unfortunately, many injured plaintiffs are not aware of LEL damages, and do not realize that they can recover for such losses.

What are LEL Damages?

LEL damages are sometimes referred to as “hedonic damages,” and they are rather suitably named — LEL damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the limitations imposed on their normal enjoyment of life as a result of their injuries.  In other words, if the ability of the plaintiff to engage in pleasurable activities has been negatively affected by their injuries, they may be entitled to LEL damages under Pennsylvania law.

It’s worth noting that LEL damages in Pennsylvania are not considered a separate and independent element of damages — instead, they fall under the broader category of pain and suffering damages.  Given that LEL damages are already noneconomic in nature, and are therefore inherently subjective, the fact that they must be claimed as a component of pain and suffering can make LEL damages appear even cloudier and more easily disputable than it would otherwise be.

Applicability of LEL Damages

LEL damages are generally applicable in situations involving a subsequent inability to engage in recreational, social, and other pleasurable activities, such as hobbies.  The degree of loss is highly dependent on the circumstances — someone who has spent their entire life as a fairly asocial personality is not likely to recover the same amount of damages as someone who regularly attended social functions.

For clarity, let’s consider a brief example.

Suppose that you are catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident.  You suffer severe back and spinal injuries that render you incapable not only of working, but also of engaging in any physically strenuous recreational activities, such as exercise or sport.  Most plaintiffs would be entitled to claim a significant LEL damages component, as the loss of such activities (even if they are not athletic) constitute a loss in the ability to stay healthy via exercise.  If — prior to the accident — you engaged in such activities frequently, then you might be entitled to recover greater damages.

Setup a Free Consultation With an Experienced Pennsylvania Injury Attorney

If you’ve suffered serious injuries in an accident that was caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another individual (or entity), then Pennsylvania law may give you the right to sue and recover a wide range of damages, including “loss of enjoyment of life” damages, which account for various recreational and social losses.  Making a well-reasoned claim for LEL damages can be challenging, as there is an inherent subjectivity to the calculation — you must convincingly demonstrate that the suffered losses are actually worth the claimed amount.  If your LEL damages constitute a significant component of your total pain and suffering damages, the defendant is likely to dig their heels in and make it a matter of dispute.

Here at Drake Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have spent decades representing injured clients throughout Pennsylvania.  We have experience litigating a variety of personal injury disputes, from motor vehicle accidents to medical malpractice accidents, and more.  Our attorneys are committed to personalized, detail-oriented legal advocacy.  We thoroughly prepare for trial, and as such, we are able to position our clients advantageously for a favorable settlement compromise.

Call (888) 777-7098 today to schedule a free consultation with one of the Bethlehem back injury lawyers here at Drake Hileman & Davis, PC.  Our attorneys have extensive experience handling cases involving catastrophic injuries.  Whether you’ve suffered back, neck, limb, head, or internal injuries, we can help you recover full and adequate damages.