What Are Non-Economic Damages in an Injury Case in Massachusetts?

Non-economic damages are often a bit confusing for those who are just being introduced to personal injury law.  If you were injured in an accident, you may be interested to know what damages you can receive and how non-economic damages fit into your claim.

Non-economic damages are a type of compensatory damages, which means that they compensate you for some harm you experienced.  Unlike economic damages, which are paid for financial harms, non-economic damages are paid to cover harms that do not have a price tag attached.  “Pain and suffering” is the most common form of non-economic damages, but other non-economic damages can also be claimed in many cases.

For help claiming damages after an accident, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan for a free case review with our Massachusetts injury attorney.  Our office number is (617) 925-6407.

What Type of Damages Are Non-Economic Damages?

Damages in a personal injury lawsuit or settlement can be broken down into a few different categories.  One way of separating out these damages is to define damages as “compensatory” or not.  Compensatory damages are paid to compensate you for some harm you experienced.  This is usually contrasted with non-compensatory damages, which most commonly include punitive damages – damages paid to punish the defendant rather than compensate the victim.

Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can help you seek all kinds of compensatory damages.  These damages are intended to set right what happened to you by restoring you – as closely as possible – to the state you were in before the accident.  This means paying you back for the medical expenses you faced, any other economic harms, and even for the intangible harms you faced in an injury.  That is where non-economic damages come into play.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case

Compensatory damages can be broken down further into “economic” damages and “non-economic” damages.  These damages are, like the names imply, damages based on financial harms and damages not based on financial harms.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are claimed for any money-based, financial harm you experienced because of the accident.  If you lost any money due to the accident or had to pay bills to recover from an accident, these economic damages can typically be included as part of an injury claim.

In Massachusetts, these are also known as “special damages.”

Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers typically look for the most common types of economic damages in every injury case: medical expenses and lost wages.  However, you could also face damages such as childcare costs, transportation costs, bills for replacement services around the house, and more.  As long as the economic harms were caused by the accident that injured you, the at-fault party should be responsible for paying those damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are all of the other damages that you face because of an accident that have no clear financial cost associated with them.  So while you might claim economic damages for your medical bills, the pain and suffering that you face is a separate harm – and it does not have any bills or financial statements associated with it.

In Massachusetts, these are also known as “general damages.”

The most common non-economic damages that people claim include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.  Other non-economic damages can also be claimed, depending on what effect you suffered because of the accident.  This can include things like discomfort, embarrassment, loss of reputation, fear of future injury, PTSD symptoms, and more.

Another common area of non-economic damages is for “loss of consortium.”  These damages are paid to the spouse of someone who has been injured to account for the harm they face as the spouse.  This can include damages for lost support, lost affection, and the loss of other spousal benefits.  Massachusetts law also allows children (adults or minors) who are dependent on the injured parent to sue for loss of consortium when their parent is injured.  Talk to your Boston personal injury lawyer about whether your loved ones can claim loss of consortium in your injury lawsuit.

Many people use the phrase “pain and suffering” interchangeably with “non-economic damages,” but technically pain and suffering is just one type of non-economic damages.

How to Claim Non-Economic Damages in a Massachusetts Injury Case

Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can help you fight for non-economic damages after an injury.  In most cases where you are allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant or an insurance claim against the at-fault party’s insurance, you should be entitled to claim non-economic damages.  However, there may be some limitations that prevent you from getting pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.

Many first-party insurance plans do not include compensation for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.  This issue most commonly arises in car accident cases where your own no-fault insurance might not cover pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.  In order to get pain and suffering covered in a Massachusetts car accident case, you will need to meet certain statutory requirements.  Namely, you must show that you have serious/permanent injuries or at least $2,000 worth of damages.

Medical malpractice lawsuits also have limitations on non-economic/general damages.  These damages are capped at $500,000 for lawsuits against health care providers unless the victim and their Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can prove certain kinds of permanent injuries or disfigurement.  If there are multiple plaintiffs suing for the same events, their total damages will also be capped at $500,000 damages, and each will receive a portion of those non-economic damages.

There may also be other ways that non-economic damages are limited, so always speak with your Cambridge personal injury lawyer about when and how you can claim non-economic damages in a Massachusetts injury case.

Call Our Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, call the Danvers personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today.  Call (617) 925-6407 for a free case review.