What is the Difference Between Economic and Noneconomic Damages?

March 15, 2019

Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers

If you’ve been harmed in an accident that was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another individual or entity in Pennsylvania, then the law may give you a right of action for damages.

When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, however, there is a significant difference between merely winning a case and winning a case while securing full and adequate damages to cover your losses.  For example, it’s possible for the court to agree with your arguments and impose liability on the defendant, but for the jury to award limited damages.  The jury may not believe that you have done enough to establish the “certainty” of your various losses or may believe that you are exaggerating your losses.

Understanding personal injury damages are therefore critical to ensuring that you are able to achieve your litigation goals.  Let’s take a closer look.

Two Primary Categories: Economic and Noneconomic Damages

Damages are meant to “compensate” the injured plaintiff for their losses, and as such, the standard damages available to an injured plaintiff are termed compensatory damages.  Their purpose is compensatory in nature — they are intended to position the plaintiff (recipient of the damages) in a manner that most accurately projects their status had the accident not occurred in the first place.

Compensatory damages can be further subdivided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages describe losses that are purely pecuniary in nature.  These damages may include compensation that covers losses such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property loss

Though some economic damages may carry an element of uncertainty (i.e., the projected loss of earning capacity, future medical expenses), they are often straightforward to establish as there is typically plentiful documentation to support one’s damage claims.

Noneconomic damages describe subjective losses that cannot be objectively measured like economic damages.  These damages may include compensation that covers losses such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Humiliation
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Calculating the damage value of one’s humiliation (in the wake of a car accident that causes them to suffer aesthetic damage to their face, for example) is quite challenging, and there is plenty of room for disagreement.  When attempting to prove that your noneconomic damages are reasonable and accurate, you will benefit a great deal by working with expert witnesses who can provide supportive testimony that agrees with the calculation of your damages.

Request a Meeting With Our Team at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC

Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC is a personal injury litigation firm with decades of experience handling a range of personal injury claims, from slip-and-fall disputes to product defect claims and motor vehicle accident lawsuits.

Our team of attorneys is well-equipped to represent your interests at trial.  Unlike many competing firms, we have successfully tried cases to conclusion.  That we have a consistent track record as “battle-tested” litigators has helped us to build a reputation as aggressive, willing, and able to take a case to trial when necessary — ensuring that we can exercise additional leverage during settlement negotiations.

Call us at 610-882-1717 or send us a case evaluation form online to request a free and confidential consultation with one of the skilled Bethlehem personal injury lawyers at our firm today.