Non-Economic Damages in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Provided by HG.org
Texas personal injury victims can often recover non-economic damages in their personal injury case in addition to their economic damages. However, it is important for victims to understand how these damages work and their limitations.
Economic damages include those damages that are quantifiable in nature. They compensate a victim for the actual monetary losses that he or she incurred as a result of the accident. For example, medical bills are often a significant portion of economic damages. Lost time from work is also a form of economic damages. Evidence that shows the expenses or losses that the victim incurred often helps support the award of these damages.
Non-economic damages seek to compensate victims for the physical suffering they endured, the mental anguish of reliving the accident and dealing with a changed future. Providing non-economic damages to Texas personal injury victims ensures that the victims receive some compensation for suffering that they did not deserve. This is often the minimum amount of justice that a personal injury victim can receive.
Types of Non-Economic Damages
Texas law recognizes many different types of non-economic damages. Some of these include:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages compensate victims for the physical and emotional suffering that they have experienced due to the accident. Proving pain and suffering often involves gathering medical records that specify the plaintiffís complaints of pain and prescriptions made for the victim to combat this pain. Additionally, a plaintiff may testify about the extent of his or her pain and suffering during a trial, if applicable.
In some personal injury cases, the victim may have suffered a tremendous traumatic event. Emotional wounds may form along with physical ones. Reports from a psychologist about the trauma may be used to substantiate this type of damage claim. Psychological evaluations may pinpoint how a specific event may have impacted a personís mental state after the accident.
In some situations, the plaintiff may recover damages for physical impairment. In addition to this impairment affecting his or her ability to earn a living, it may also diminish the victimís quality of life. Compensation may be available for these types of damages when a victim can no longer participate in sports, hobbies or other recreational activities due to the accident. Receiving these damages requires the victim to show how his or her life has been adversely affected because of the injuries he or she sustained.
Another type of non-economic damages in Texas personal injury cases is disfigurement. These damages are available when the accident affected a personís physical appearance by the victim being maimed or otherwise cosmetically affected because of the accident.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium damages are recoverable when a loved one lost the love, affection, companionship, protection and care due to the negligence of another. Under Texas law, only the spouse, parent or child of the victim can recover these damages.
Evidence to Support Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages may be established in a number of ways. The victim may testify about the pain, suffering, embarrassment, mental anguish and other negative feelings he or she has related to the accident. Medical and non-medical experts may also be called to testify about these factors. For example, a psychiatrist may discuss his or her diagnosis of the victim, the victimís prognosis and what type of medication was prescribed for the victim. He or she may also discuss the mental toll that the injuries have had on the victimís life.
Doctors may also be called to testify about the victimís treatment and injuries. They can also explain what types of future injuries or procedures the victim may have to undergo. They may be able to discuss the limitations the injuries will impose on the victimís life and how the accident may diminish the victimís quality of life.
Evaluating Non-Economic Damages
Unlike economic damages in which there is a specific monetary basis for the damages, non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify. Ultimately, the value of these damages is made as a subjective evaluation of the claim. The judge or jury makes the decision regarding how much these types of damages are worth.
Determining and calculating non-economic damages can be a daunting task. When looking for a personal injury lawyer to handle a claim, it is important to consider a lawyer who is knowledgeable about non-economic damages and substantiating them through evidence, the victimís testimony and the testimony of others.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.