Economic Damages vs. Noneconomic Damages

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Automobile accidents and damages often go hand in hand. In many cases, the damage sustained goes beyond just property damage, and can even cause serious bodily harm. Many times, the loss incurred is not limited to bodily injuries. Whether you have suffered from anxiety or emotional distress resulting from an accident, or your vehicle has been totaled, an automobile accident can have a great effect on your daily life. Generally, when such a case is brought to court, the court will divide damages sustained into two categories: economic damages and noneconomic damages. While both are forms of damages, they are different, and can have varying effects on the outcome of a case.

Economic Damages

An economic damage is one that represents the dollar amount a person has lost as a result of an accident. The most typical of these damages is one that results in a bill for services. Economic damages include, but are not limited to:

  • medical fees;
  • property repair fees; and
  • lost wages.

Economic damages, however, are not limited solely to present-day damages, and can be applied to compensate for any future expected losses. Because economic losses are generally based on concrete evidence of monetary loss, there are few, if any, limits placed on how much money a person can recover in court.

Noneconomic Damages

Whereas economic damages cover monetary loss, noneconomic damages cover those damages that do not have an inherent dollar amount. Types of noneconomic damages include:

  • pain and suffering;
  • disfigurement or disability;
  • emotional pain or anguish; and
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

Needless to say, it is much more difficult to put a price tag on emotional trauma. While you can never truly give a monetary valuation of pain or loss, the courts do their best to calculate an amount that would best compensate a victim in an accident. In calculating damages, the courts consider several factors, including the permanency of the accident, the disruptions to the victim’s daily life, and the projected recovery time. In addition, the treatment of such damages, including how much a person may recover in noneconomic damages, varies by state.


One thing to be aware of when discussing damages in an automobile accident case is that a victim will only be compensated for damages directly resulting from the accident. While this might seem like a fairly obvious statement, the issue can become more complex if the victim suffers from pre-existing conditions. While a defendant would still be responsible for his actions regardless of the prior condition of the victim, the damages can be affected by the surrounding facts. For example, a person who suffered injuries in a separate accident might have pre-existing injuries that could have been aggravated by the most recent accident. The court would need to decide whether the economic and noneconomic damages incurred after an accident were the direct result of the accident presented before the court.

Contact an Attorney

While nobody wants to get into an automobile accident, the truth is that an accident can happen to anyone at any time. In order to help protect your interests, it is important to work with an experienced attorney. If you or someone you love has been involved in an automobile accident, call a dedicated, experienced attorney at the David Aylor Law Offices for a free consultation.

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