How Are Intangible Losses From A Car Accident Calculated?
After an auto accident, an injured party may be entitled to receive compensation or economic recovery for losses and harms sustained due to the fault or liability of another party. In a personal injury lawsuit, recovery is based on the kinds of damages that were sustained.1 A damage or remedy is a form of monetary compensation based on the breach of a duty and comes in two forms: compensatory to reimburse an injured party for losses or injuries and punitive to function as a form of punishment for wrongdoing.2
Compensatory damages can cover both tangible or economic losses as well as non-economic or intangible losses. A tangible loss is typically a straightforward monetary calculation of expenses and costs based on medical treatments, loss of income, loss of property, or legal fees. On the other hand, intangible losses do not have a specific monetary value identified within a bill or receipt, but instead are based on assigning an economic value to a particular pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Non-Economic Compensatory Damages
Pain and suffering is the most common form of an intangible damages based on the physical, mental, and emotional pain suffered in the past and expected in the future.3 Calculating pain and suffering is based on several factors, beginning with the type of injury and nature of medical treatment.4 For instance, the pain and suffering associated with lacerations or bruises will be significantly less than the level of pain caused by a broken bone or a low degree burn, but a disfigurement or paralysis could cause an even greater level of pain. As the seriousness or extensiveness of an injury increases so does the monetary value assigned to the pain and suffering.
The nature of medical treatment also plays a significant role since an in jury only needing initial one time attention such as stitching a cut is going to warrant less pain and suffering compensation then an injury requiring hospitalization, surgery, or rehabilitation. Other considerations include the type of medication and how long it is prescribed, the length of the recovery process, and the presence of life altering injuries such as an injured party who is in a comatose state, suffers from paralysis, or disfigurement.5
The second common form of intangible loss is based on a person’s mental anguish or emotional distress caused by being involved in a traumatic event itself, the medical complications of the injury, or by the recovery process in general. Mental suffering could include fright, terror, depression, apprehension, nervousness, anxiety, worry, humiliation, loss of dignity, embarrassment, grief, or shock.7
7 In some cases, if an injured party’s mental anguish results in post-traumatic stress disorder or another severe status therapists may testify as to the suffering caused by the injury, but in other cases a plaintiff’s personal testimony will be heavily relied on.
Regardless of what type of non-economic damages are sought, determining the losses or harms is a subjective process. The process requires consideration of any loss, distress, or inconvenience that altered an injured party’s lifestyle or quality of life from before the accident to after the injury was sustained. Non-economic damages are calculated in a very particular case by case manner, but in most instances the basic process will assigned a monetary worth to each type of loss while considering factors such as a party’s age, family circumstance, education, and medical history.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered a harm which includes either tangible or intangible losses, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call The Bruning Law Firm at 314-735-8100.