How Does a Lawyer Calculate My Non-Economic Damages?

One of the most difficult tasks for an Atlanta personal injury lawyer is calculating the non-economic damages their client deserves. How do you put a dollar value on a person’s pain and suffering? How do you evaluate how much their time lost in the hospital, their emotional trauma, and their inability to return to their lives with the same joy of living are worth?

Yet, a lawyer has to do that when they prepare the letter of demand to inform an insurance company how much you seek in damages. It is your right to receive this type of compensation. Someone’s negligence left you with both visible and invisible injuries. The visible injuries cost you a lot of money in terms of hospital bills and other medical expenses.

The invisible injuries – trauma, nightmares, anxiety and depression – may have lifelong effects on your life. And this is exactly why an Atlanta personal injury lawyer will seek the maximum non-economic damages they can expect to obtain.

What Exactly Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are an amount of money awarded to an injured person that is not based on financial loss, but other types of losses – more precisely, pain and suffering.

These are different from punitive damages, which a jury awards at the end of a personal injury lawsuit to punish the defendant for acting with malice, wantonness, or willful intent.

Legally speaking, an Atlanta personal injury lawyer can name one or several of these five different types of suffering as justification for the non-economic damages:

1. Physical Pain

Most accidents result in painful injuries. Broken bones, cuts, burns, and other types of injuries cause significant suffering to a person. This pain may persist even after doctors prescribe pain medication. Moreover, some injuries require surgeries and further treatments and therapies – most of them causing pain and discomfort.

It is absolutely logical for the person who caused these painful injuries through their negligence to compensate you for the suffering. For some people, even the memory of the pain they’ve been through is enough to trigger an anxiety attack.

2. Emotional Distress

Any Atlanta personal injury lawyer knows that a traumatic event does not end for a long time for the injured person. Their mind replays the events, either when they are asleep or when they are awake. Certain sounds and images trigger these painful memories.

Many car accident victims need time before they can have the self-control to get into a vehicle. Others will need counseling before they are able to drive again. All these instances of emotional suffering deserve compensation, which will be included in the non-economic damages.

3. Loss of Companionship/Consortium

Severe accidents can change the way a person can relate to their loved ones. They may be left with impairments that prevent them from playing with their children, being intimate with their partners or helping their elderly parents with chores.

These are important parts of anyone’s life, and being robbed of them feels devastating. While money will not be able to soothe this suffering, it can ensure a comfortable life for you and the assurance that your family is financially safe.

An accident victim in a wheelchair

4. Loss of Quality of Life

Some people are left with medical conditions, such as chronic pain, after a car crash or a slip and fall injury. This means that they cannot be as active as they used to be and are less energetic and optimistic. In short, their life is less full and satisfying than before the accident.

This type of suffering is a very solid reason for an Atlanta personal injury lawyer to demand the maximum amount allowed by law for non-economic damages.

5. Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

Catastrophic accidents, such as truck accidents and motorcycle accidents, can leave the victim paralyzed or with permanent visible scars. These two are physical injuries, but with a devastating, lifelong effect on the person’s emotional and mental state. For this reason, the courts will generally accept very high amounts in non-economic damages, if the insurance company refuses to settle the claim.

How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

It is obvious that the more severe the physical injuries, the higher the amount of non-economic damages will be. And, although this appears as a subjective issue, there are, in fact, two formulas used by lawyers and insurance adjusters to calculate these damages.

The Multiplier Method

In this situation, the non-economic damages are calculated by multiplying the amount of the economic damages by a factor. This factor is usually between 1.5 and 5. The value of this factor depends on the severity and extent of the person’s injuries and the likelihood of making a full recovery.

Thus, if your economic damages amount to $100,000 and the agreed multiplier factor is 2, you will collect $200,000 as non-economic damages.

The Per Diem Method

In this situation, your Atlanta personal injury lawyer will determine the number of days starting with the accident and until your doctor determines that you reached maximum medical improvement and you are released home. Next, the lawyer will evaluate a daily amount for your pain and suffering. This amount will be higher if you suffered severe and life-changing injuries.

The non-economic damages will be the number of days multiplied by the daily amount.

Are There Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Georgia?

The good news is that there are no caps imposed by law for non-economic damages. There used to be a cap on this type of damages in medical malpractice cases, but it was repealed in 2010 after years of protests from injured persons and the legal community.

However, since Georgia is an at-fault state for personal injury cases, you must remember that the actual amount of economic and non-economic damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident you suffered.

Our Atlanta Personal Injury Law Firm Will Fight for Your Rights!

Every attorney at H Groves Law is committed to obtaining the highest compensatory amount for each client, both for economic and non-economic damages. We will select the most favorable method for calculating damages and will put together a convincing case to obtain an out-of-court settlement.

Over the years, we learned that insurance companies will agree to settle if you have experienced legal representation and show that you are not backing off. Even if the insurer refuses to be reasonable, we are confident that we will win your compensation in court. The first step in this process is to schedule a free case review with us as soon as you are able to do so after your accident!