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What Are Non-Economic Damages, And How Are They Measured?

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If you are injured in a car accident, the most obvious thing that you think of for compensation is your actual expenses and costs - things like your medical bills, the repairs to your vehicle or replacement cost for a new one, the wages you lost while you were dealing with your injuries, etc. When you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, it is highly likely that they will make you a settlement offer that addresses these issues, and you may be inclined to accept the offer, right?

Do not accept the offer. These factors are called “economic damages,” and they only tell a small part of your story. If you were to hire a personal injury lawyer in Bakersfield, they would counter this offer with a much higher number that includes things called “non-economic damages.” Ultimately, these damages make up a significant portion of a lawsuit.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Simply put, non-economic damages are the “intangible” impacts on your life after an accident that you are injured in. Sure, your medical bills are covered, and you will get repaid for the PTO you had to use for your doctor visits, but what about the aches and pains, and the depression you get because you can’t take walks while your leg is broken?

These are what civil courts call non-economic damages, and they are a big part of what a personal injury lawyer fights for in a lawsuit. Since there is no invoice that comes along with these types of damages, it takes a bit more convincing than simply submitting invoices and bills to a judge and asking that the insurance company pays you back for them.

How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

There are a few different options for determining the amount of non-economic damages a victim is owed. It starts by taking a holistic look at the overall impacts of things like pain, suffering, depression, and an overall loss of satisfaction that we get from being able to live our lives. An attorney will consider all of the impacts on your life, and then use one of the following methods to quantify the damages:


This is the most common method for calculating non-economic damages. An attorney will work with their client and go through all of their notes, diaries, and interview friends and family to understand the true impact that the injuries have had. They will consider every detail, such as hobbies that the client can no longer enjoy, personal tasks they now need help with, and other things of the sort. They will then come up with a “multiplier” that represents the severity of the situation, and apply it to the economic damages. This way, they are creating a number that can be easily understood by a jury, and simply combining it with the actual economic damages of the accident.

Day Rate

Requesting repayment for a “day rate” of non-economic damages is another option that a personal injury attorney could use when determining the amount their client is owed. In this situation, the attorney and client will agree on a fair dollar amount for the “costs” of living with the injuries sustained. Once the daily rate is determining, it is then quantified across the entire timeline of the impacts of the injury, and submitted as the final number for non-economic compensation.

Keep in mind that if you are injured in an accident, you are hiring an attorney to build this case for you. Make sure that you trust them before you begin the trial, and then let them get to work. Whether they choose the day rate or a multiplier method, they are making that decision to benefit you as their client.