When someone is injured or killed due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of another person, the damages can go beyond just the economic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. In Florida personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, noneconomic damages can also be awarded to compensate the victim or their family for intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Noneconomic damages are also known as "general" damages, as opposed to "special" damages which cover economic losses. While economic damages are relatively easy to quantify, noneconomic damages are more subjective and can vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case.
Types of Noneconomic Damages in Florida
In Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases, there are several types of noneconomic damages that can be awarded to compensate the victim or their family for intangible losses. These damages may include the following:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is one of the most common types of noneconomic damages. This refers to the physical and emotional pain that the victim experiences as a result of the injury or death. The amount of compensation awarded for pain and suffering can depend on various factors, such as the severity of the injury, the length of the recovery period, and the impact on the victim's quality of life.
For example, a victim who suffers a severe spinal cord injury in a car accident and is left paralyzed will likely experience significant physical pain and emotional suffering for the rest of their life. On the other hand, a victim who suffers a minor injury that fully recovers within a few weeks will receive less compensation for pain and suffering.
Emotional distress is another type of noneconomic damage that can be awarded in personal injury and wrongful death cases. This refers to the psychological impact of the injury or death, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional distress damages can be awarded even if the victim did not suffer any physical injury, as long as they can show that they experienced significant emotional distress as a result of the accident.
For example, if someone witnesses a loved one being killed in a car accident, they may experience significant emotional distress and PTSD as a result. Emotional distress damages can also be awarded in cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress, such as when someone intentionally causes emotional harm to another person.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is a type of noneconomic damage that is awarded to the spouse or family members of someone who has been injured or killed. This refers to the loss of companionship, affection, and sexual relations that the family members experience as a result of the injury or death. Loss of consortium damages can be awarded in addition to other noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
For example, if someone is killed in a car accident, their spouse may be awarded damages for the loss of companionship and emotional support that they would have received if their spouse had not been killed. Loss of consortium damages can also be awarded in cases where the victim is left permanently disabled and unable to provide the same level of companionship and support that they did before the injury.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the loss of the ability to enjoy everyday activities or hobbies that the victim experienced prior to the injury or death. This can include activities such as playing sports, spending time with family and friends, or participating in cultural or social events.
For example, if someone suffers a severe injury that prevents them from participating in a hobby that they enjoyed, such as playing music or gardening, they may be entitled to compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
Disfigurement and Scarring
Disfigurement and scarring refer to the physical appearance of the victim after an injury, and the impact it has on their quality of life. These damages may be awarded in cases where the victim suffers permanent scarring or disfigurement that affects their ability to work or participate in social activities.
For example, if someone suffers a serious burn injury that leaves them with permanent scarring on their face or body, they may be entitled to compensation for disfigurement and scarring.
Disability and Impairment
Disability and impairment refer to the impact of the injury or death on the victim's ability to work, participate in hobbies, or perform everyday tasks. These damages may be awarded in cases where the victim suffers a permanent disability or impairment that affects their quality of life.
For example, if someone suffers a spinal cord injury that leaves them permanently paralyzed, they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their ability to walk, work, and participate in activities that they enjoyed prior to the injury.
In Florida, there is no cap on the amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded in personal injury or wrongful death cases. However, the amount of damages awarded may be reduced if the victim was partially responsible for the accident.
How to Calculate Noneconomic Damages
Calculating noneconomic damages in Florida is a complex process, as these damages are subjective and difficult to quantify. There is no standard formula for calculating noneconomic damages, and the amount of damages awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and an analysis of various factors, which we will discuss further in the next section below.
To determine the value of noneconomic damages, the victim or their attorney will typically gather evidence such as medical records, psychological evaluations, and testimony from friends and family members. This evidence will be used to demonstrate the impact of the injury or death on the victim's life and the severity of the noneconomic damages suffered. an analysis of a set of factors, which we will discuss more below.
Methods for Calculating Noneconomic Damages
In addition to presenting evidence, the victim or their attorney may also use various methods to calculate the value of noneconomic damages, including the following:
The Multiplier Method
One common method is the multiplier method, which involves multiplying the economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) by a certain number to arrive at the value of noneconomic damages. The multiplier used will depend on the severity of the injury and the impact on the victim's quality of life, as well as the state and county where the case will be tried.
This method is extremely common. Many people have heard that their case is worth three-, four-, or five-times medical bills or some other oversimplification of case value. This is an example of the multiplier method in action. It’s a fast way to judge the value of a case, but it’s not very accurate in many cases.
The Per Diem Method
Another method that may be used to calculate noneconomic damages is the per diem method. This involves calculating the value of noneconomic damages based on a daily rate for pain and suffering or emotional distress. The daily rate may be determined based on factors such as the length of the recovery period and the impact on the victim's daily life.
Typically, the per diem method allows for a more precise valuation of a person’s noneconomic damages. However, it can take more time to calculate noneconomic damages this way, and it usually involves plugging various values, based on an analysis of factors, into an equation to come up with a value.
It's important to note that there is no set formula for calculating noneconomic damages in Florida, and the value of noneconomic damages will ultimately depend on the unique circumstances of each case. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is critical to getting maximum value for noneconomic damages.
Factors that Affect Noneconomic Damages
In Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases, the amount of noneconomic damages awarded can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case. Some of the factors that may affect the amount of damages awarded include:
- The severity of the injury or the death of a person. In general, more severe injuries or deaths are likely to result in higher awards for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
- The impact on the victim's quality of life. Injuries that affect the victim's ability to work, participate in hobbies, or enjoy everyday activities may result in higher noneconomic damages awards.
- The length of the recovery period. Injuries that require extensive medical treatment or result in a long-term disability may result in higher noneconomic damages awards.
- The age and health of the victim. Older victims or those with pre-existing medical conditions may be more vulnerable to the effects of the injury or death, and may therefore receive higher noneconomic damages awards.
- The degree of fault of the parties involved. Victims who are found to be partially at fault for the accident may receive lower noneconomic damages awards.
Other factors that may be considered when determining noneconomic damages include the impact of the injury or death on the victim's family members, the extent to which the victim's daily life has been affected, and any psychological or emotional trauma resulting from the accident.
Proving Noneconomic Damages
Proving noneconomic damages in a personal injury or wrongful death case can be challenging, as these damages are subjective and can be difficult to quantify. In order to prove noneconomic damages, the victim or their family must be able to show that they have suffered significant pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of consortium as a result of the injury or death.
To do this, the victim or their family may present medical records, psychological evaluations, and testimony from witnesses, like friends and family members. They may also be required to testify in court about the impact of the injury or death on their daily lives.
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can be crucial in proving noneconomic damages. An attorney can help the victim or their family gather the necessary evidence to support their claim, and can work to negotiate a fair settlement or litigate the case in court.
Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have been injured and suffered permanent scarring because of the negligence or carelessness of another party, you should speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. You can contact us online or you can call our Orlando, Florida law office at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your consultation.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.