Non-Economic Damages

When you pursue compensation for an accident, you may seek economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are easy to understand because they cover all of the ways your accident affected your finances.

Non-economic damages are more difficult to pin down. They compensate you for all of the ways your accident diminished your quality of life. But how can an insurance claims adjuster or jury quantify those losses?

Here are some examples of non-economic damages and how they are quantified.

Compensatory Damages After an Accident

Compensatory damages compensate you for your losses after an accident. Compensatory damages fall into two categories:

Economic Damages

Economic damages, also called special damages, are specific to your losses. They cover all of the ways your accident affected you financially. 

Some examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical costs
  • Future medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity

You must have documentation, like medical bills, repair estimates, and wage records, to prove the specific damages you suffered.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, also called general damages, flow naturally from your injuries without any proof of their value. They cover all of the ways in which your injuries have diminished your quality of life. 

An adjuster or jury will infer your non-economic damages from the nature of your injuries. 

Examples of Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages cover a range of losses. You do not necessarily need to prove that you suffered a particular type of non-economic damage. A jury or adjuster can presume certain non-economic damages apply when you are injured in an accident.

But if you present evidence of non-economic losses you suffered, you improve the chances you will get a damage award that fairly compensates your losses. 

Some of the most common examples of non-economic damages include:

Physical Pain

Pain can make your life miserable. It can interfere with your sleep. It can prevent you from working. Pain can even stop you from performing necessary activities like getting out of bed, bathing, and dressing. 

Your non-economic losses include the non-tangible diminishment in your quality of life due to physical anguish.

Mental Suffering

After your accident, you could suffer from nightmares, anxiety, and depression. You may have flashbacks to your accident and have difficulties concentrating or remembering. You might worry about your health and finances. Your mood may suffer because you cannot do the activities you need or want to do.

Your non-economic damages include these mental burdens. Bear in mind that the damages do not arise from the cost of treating your mental health issues. The financial cost of therapy or counseling would fall under economic damages. 

Your non-economic damages simply arise because of your mental distress, whether you get treatment or not.


Getting injured makes your life inconvenient. You might need help with transportation. Your injuries might prevent you from grocery shopping. You could lack the mobility or strength to cook and clean. Evidence of inconveniences caused by your injuries will support your claim for non-economic damages.

These inconveniences can arise from physical or mental limitations. After a car accident, a broken leg might prevent you from driving. But an inability to drive after a car accident could also come from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Loss of Activities

Your injuries might prevent you from participating in a range of activities.

The loss of the ability to participate in activities extends to all activities, including:

  • Exercise
  • Hobbies
  • Travel
  • Family or community activities
  • Work

The loss in your ability to engage in these activities can support a claim for non-economic damages.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages

Even though non-economic damages lack a price tag, the jury or adjuster must place a value on them. This value accounts for the nature of the injuries since more severe injuries have a greater impact on your quality of life.

Damages experts have many ways of calculating non-economic damages, including:

The Multiplier Method

Under the multiplier method, the jury or adjuster assigns a multiplier based on the severity and duration of your injuries. The multipliers range between 1.5 and 5.0 — with higher values associated with more severe or longer-lasting injuries.

The jury or adjuster adds up your economic damages and multiplies the sum by the multiplier to calculate your total damages. 

For example, if you suffered $17,000 in economic damages and the adjuster selected a 2.5 multiplier, your total damages would be $42,500. Of this amount, $17,000 gets assigned to economic damages, and $25,500 gets assigned to non-economic damages.

The Per Diem Method

In the per diem method, the jury or adjuster assigns a daily value to your non-economic damages. The jury or adjuster multiplies the daily value by the number of days your injury lasted.

A jury listening to your evidence might assign a daily value of $60 to your non-economic losses. If your injuries lasted two years, your non-economic damages would total $43,800. You then add in your economic damages to get your total damage award.

Proving Non-Economic Damages

Since a jury or adjuster presumes non-economic damages, you do not need to prove specific losses. But the more evidence you present, the better your chances of getting a fair multiplier or daily value.To learn more about the non-economic damages your case might support, contact Hawk Law Group for a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer.