Non-Economic Damages

If you were injured in a car accident, pedestrian accident, or slip and fall, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. This is in addition to your economic damages, such as property damage or medical expenses. In many cases, non-economic damages equal or exceed the value of economic damages, so they are a vital part of a personal injury claim.

The Role of Damages In Personal Injury Cases

The Role of Damages In Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury or tort law is concerned with correcting situations involving harm to others. This area of the law seeks to place accident victims back in the position they would have been in had the accident never occurred. Undoing the injuries is impossible, so the only logical recourse is to award the victim money for the harm they’ve suffered.

Personal injury victims can recover economic damages and non-economic damages. Collectively, these are known as compensatory damages. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded, but these are less common and are reserved for cases involving egregious misconduct. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate the victim.

Economic Damages

To better understand non-economic damages, it’s important to realize what they are not. Non-economic damages are the opposite of economic damages. Economic damages are tied to a direct economic loss and are easier to quantify. Examples of economic damages provided for under New York law include:

Accident victims can recover compensation for medical expenses, such as:

  • Emergency medical services
  • Ambulance rides
  • Medications
  • Nursing expenses
  • Dental expenses
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Therapy

This includes past and current damages, as well as future damages that you can reasonably anticipate.

You can also seek compensation for the earnings you lost while you are seeking medical attention or healing from your injuries.

These include losses such as:

  • Wages
  • Salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Employment benefits

If you have severe injuries, you may be unable to work. Alternatively, you might have to switch to a lower-paying job that is less physically or mentally demanding. You can seek compensation for the difference between your former job and your new one.

In wrongful death cases, loved ones can seek compensation for funeral and burial costs.

The costs to repair or replace your vehicle or other damaged personal property can also be included in your claim for compensation.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are not directly tied to a financial loss. Tort law recognizes that personal injuries can negatively impact a person in ways that cannot be so easily quantified. Non-economic damages compensate a victim for negative changes in a person’s life. New York law provides compensation for various non-economic damages.

Pain and Suffering

The most common type of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. The law recognizes that physical pain and suffering are real and can change a victim’s life, so accident victims can seek compensation for this harm. These damages compensate a victim for physical pain, discomfort, insomnia, ill health, and other negative effects of the injuries.

Mental and Emotional Distress

You can also seek compensation for your mental and emotional distress, which might stem from the incident itself or from trying to cope with your accident injuries, such as enduring medical treatment, coping with a disability, or suffering job loss because of your physical impairments.


You can seek compensation for permanent disabilities and impairments you suffer. Injuries can be life-altering. You may be unable to work or participate in favorite activities. Your relationships with loved ones can change. You can pursue compensation that fairly accounts for these negative impacts on your life.


Burns, amputations, and other types of injuries can cause disfigurement and scarring. In addition to the medical expenses related to these injuries, you can also seek compensation for non-economic damages related to these effects.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Your quality of life may decline after a serious accident. You may be unable to do things that previously gave you joy. Your relationships with others can suffer. Non-economic damages can be awarded to compensate for these losses.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium damages acknowledge that personal injuries can impact a person’s romantic and intimate relations and provide compensation for these effects.

How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

One of the things that complicates non-economic damages is determining a value for them. Economic damages can be proven with receipts, estimates, or sometimes evaluations by experts to estimate costs. However, a feature of non-economic damages is that they are not easy to quantify.

New York law does not provide a particular formula for juries or insurance adjusters to use to calculate the financial value of these losses. They can consider various factors when determining a fair amount of money to award for non-economic damages, such as the severity of the injury, the duration of medical treatment, the impact on the victim’s life, the plaintiff’s age, and other relevant factors.

Two common methods to calculate non-economic damages include:

Multiplier Method

With the multiplier method, the jury or insurance adjuster multiplies the victim’s economic damages by a multiple, usually between 1.5 and 5.0. For example, if the victim suffered $100,000 in economic damages and the jury uses a multiple of 3, non-economic damages would be $300,000, so the victim would recover $400,000 ($100,000 in economic damages and $300,000 in non-economic damages).

Per Diem Method

With the per diem method, the jury or insurance adjuster assigns a daily value of non-economic damages and multiplies it by the number of days the victim experienced pain and suffering. For example, if the daily rate is $100 and the victim suffered for 100 days, the pain and suffering damages would be $10,000.

You will need documentation and other supporting evidence to prove that you have suffered in order to recover non-economic damages.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help With Your Non-Economic Damages Claim

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be fairly compensated for all your losses. An experienced personal injury attorney can fight for you to recover the economic and non-economic damages you deserve.