If you suffer a personal injury in Louisiana, someone else might be liable for your damages. Louisiana recognizes three types of damages—economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Among these, non-economic damages are most likely to amount to more than half the value of your claim.
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of consortium;
- Mental anguish;
- Physical impairment;
- And more.
There is no formal list of non-economic damages. If you suffer an intangible loss for which another party is liable, it is all a matter of convincing a Louisiana court that you deserve them.
Types of Non-Economic Damages
Following are brief descriptions of some of the common components of an award of non-economic damages.
Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” damages compensate you for your physical suffering as well as your mental anguish and emotional distress. This can include pain, shock, respiratory distress, confinement, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other forms of suffering.
Did you lose a limb in a car accident, for example? Are you suffering from extensive scarring? These injuries might not hurt anymore, and you might have already claimed damages for the medical bills. But that’s not enough to cover your actual losses, is it? Disfigurement damages compensate you for the lasting effects.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Did you have to abandon hobbies or activities you used to enjoy because of your injuries? “Loss of enjoyment of life” damages can compensate you for loss of the ability to:
- Play with your children;
- Participate in volunteer or church activities; and
This is not even the beginning of a complete list of activities whose loss might justify an award for loss of enjoyment of life. It depends on your lifestyle before your injury.
Did a workplace accident or a slip-and-fall accident at a department store leave you unsteady on your feet? Did you suffer some other form of short-term or long-term physical impairment? You deserve compensation for this.
Loss of Consortium
You cannot file a loss of consortium claim. Instead, your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or grandparents can file this claim. This claim is for loss of companionship, love, affection, and sometimes even household services. To the extent that the claim compensates for the loss of household services, however, it is a form of economic damages, not non-economic damages.
Survivors’ Grief and Anguish (Wrongful Death).
If you have ever lost a loved one, nobody has to tell you what survivors’ grief and anguish feels like. The spouse, children, parents, siblings, and grandparents can file a Louisiana wrongful death claim. If you win, you can receive various forms of economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for your grief and anguish.
Loss of Care, Companionship, Guidance, and Emotional Support (Wrongful Death)
Loss of care, companionship, guidance, and emotional support is an element of damages, similar to loss of consortium, that surviving relatives can rely on to justify the non-economic damages component of a wrongful death claim.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Below is a description of two of the most common ways of calculating non-economic damages. You can calculate your damages in other ways as well, especially in settlement negotiations.
The Per Diem Method
Under the per diem method, you simply calculate a daily value for your suffering. You then multiply this value by the number of days you suffered to arrive at your total compensation for non-economic damages.
The Multiplier Method
Under the multiplier method, you choose a number, typically between 1.5 and 5, that represents the intensity and expected duration of your suffering. You then multiply this number by either your total economic damages or your total medical expenses to arrive at your compensation for non-economic damages.
Non-Economic Damages in Settlement Negotiations
The exact amount of your non-economic damages might be a significant source of tension in settlement negotiations. Ultimately, however, both parties’ estimates of your chances of winning high non-economic damages at trial will govern settlement negotiations on the issue.
Keep in mind that almost all personal injury claims are settled before trial. In fact, the court is likely to be pushing the parties for settlement since that reduces crowded dockets.
An Experienced Baton Rouge Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Maximize Your Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are difficult to quantify. How much is your emotional distress worth, for example? $1,000? $10,000? A lot of that depends on your persuasive skills—or the persuasive skills of your lawyer. A good Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer might be able to increase the value of your compensation far beyond the amount you end up paying in legal fees.