Damages for a personal injury claim include your monetary losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages. However, you also experience pain and suffering because of the accident and injuries. These damages are referred to as non-economic damages.
Both economic losses and non-economic losses are compensatory damages. If you prove another party caused your injuries, that party can be held legally liable for your damages.
Typically, proving liability requires you to prove the party owed you a duty of care and breached the duty of care. In addition, you must prove the breach of duty caused your injuries and that you sustained damages.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Allow Non-Economic Damages?
You can recover compensation for non-economic damages in all types of personal injury cases. Examples of cases that can result in pain and suffering damages include:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Product liability claims
- Slip and fall accidents
- Premises liability claims
- Truck accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
Countless injury cases can result in compensation for pain and suffering. An insurance adjuster may try to convince you that you are not entitled to these damages.
Do not trust the claims adjuster. Instead, talk with a personal injury attorney to confirm the damages you can receive and the value of those damages.
Common Types of Non-Economic Damages in Texas
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §41.001 defines non-economic damages as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Physical impairment
- Mental or emotional pain or anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society and companionship
- Injury to reputation
The code states that non-economic damages can include all other non-pecuniary losses (damages unrelated to financial loss) other than exemplary damages (punitive damages).
Some non-economic damages can be claimed by the family members of injured victims. Loss of consortium, society, and companionship are examples of those damages. A loss of consortium claim is separate from the injured party’s claim for damages.
Sadly, the mental anguish and diminished quality of life after an accident can be devastating. The physical and emotional distress caused by a personal injury can be just as debilitating as a physical impairment. An accident victim may suffer from severe depression, PTSD, and chronic anxiety attacks.
How Do Courts Calculate the Value of Non-Economic Damages?
Putting a price tag on someone’s pain and suffering is extremely difficult. Each person’s experience is unique.
Because there is no standard formula or statutory guidelines for calculating pain and suffering damages, we must evaluate the factors that impact the level of suffering. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
- The type of injury
- The severity of the injury
- The duration of your recovery
- Whether you sustained a permanent disability or impairment
- If there is significant scarring or disfigurement
- Whether the injury resulted in losing a body part, internal organ, or bodily function
Other factors could impact the value of a claim for non-economic damages. For example, if you are partially to blame for causing your injury, comparative negligence laws reduce the value of your claim by your percentage of fault.
Most juries, insurance companies, and personal injury lawyers use the multiplier method to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages.
The parties agree on a number between 1.5 and five. That number is multiplied by the total economic losses. The total is the value of non-economic damages.
The above factors influence the multiplier assigned to a case. For example, higher multipliers apply in cases involving catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. Likewise, permanent disabling conditions would warrant a higher multiplier.
Are There Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Texas?
Generally, there are no caps on the amount of money you can receive for your pain and suffering. However, there are exceptions.
For example, comparative fault laws in Texas state that if you are over 51% at fault, you cannot recover any money for your claim.
There are caps in specific types of cases. For example, there is a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering per defendant in medical malpractice claims. The maximum you can receive per claim is $750,000.
Likewise, there is a cap of $250,000 on claims involving government entities per person involved in the case. There is also a maximum total set for the claim of $500,000. These caps apply to non-economic AND economic damages.
However, the cap is $100,000 with a maximum of $300,000 per case if the government entity is not the state, a municipality, or an emergency service organization.
What Is the Deadline for Filing Claims for Non-Economic Damages?
The statute of limitations is two years from the injury date for most personal injury lawsuits in Texas. The filing deadline includes claims for pain and suffering damages. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, so it is always best to consult an attorney as soon as possible after an injury.
Special rules apply if you sue the government.
You must file a notice within six months of your injury if you sue the government. However, that deadline could be shorter for local municipalities. Failing to file a notice of claim could cost you the right to file a lawsuit.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Texas Personal Injury Lawyers
Insurance companies consistently undervalue non-economic damages, especially when the injured party does not have a lawyer. Our Texas personal injury attorneys fight to recover compensation for all damages. Call our law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation with an attorney.