When you’ve been injured in an accident, the physical pain is just the beginning. The aftermath can leave a lasting imprint on your life, going far beyond medical bills and lost wages. The pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship can be substantial and heart-wrenching.
In Texas, victims who have been hurt due to someone’s negligence can seek damages – monetary compensation – for the harm they have suffered. This includes non-economic damages, which are designed to compensate victims for losses that cannot be measured in terms of money.
In this article, the experienced attorneys at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group explain non-economic damages in personal injury cases, including what they cover, how they are calculated, and how our law firm can help get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Please take a moment to watch this video by seasoned personal injury lawyer Ty Stimpson who gives an overview of the types of damages in Texas personal injury cases.
Types of Non-Economic Damages in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Non-economic damages in Texas are codified in Section 41.001 (12) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. It defines non-economic damages as damages awarded for the purpose of compensating a claimant for physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain or anguish, loss of consortium, disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of companionship and society, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, injury to reputation, and all other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages.
Unlike economic damages, which cover calculable losses such as medical expenses or lost income, non-economic damages are intangible losses that can’t be easily quantified. Non-economic damages in Texas personal injury cases include:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering pertains to the discomfort and distress that stems directly from the physical injuries sustained. This includes not only the immediate pain from the injury but also any potential ongoing pain that is anticipated to continue in the future. Chronic pain conditions, lasting physical disabilities, or the long-term effects of injuries like reduced mobility, fall under this umbrella.
The severity and duration of the pain play crucial roles in determining the amount of compensation awarded. For instance, a severe injury causing excruciating pain or long-lasting discomfort can significantly increase the amount of pain and suffering damages.
Mental or Emotional Pain and Anguish
Emotional distress refers to the psychological impact resulting from physical injuries. This can include a range of conditions such as anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, humiliation, and even more severe mental health conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Emotional distress can be debilitating. For example, an individual might develop a fear of driving after a serious car accident or may experience a decrease in self-esteem due to scarring or disfigurement.
It’s important to note that while these damages may seem subjective, they are very real to those who experience them, and therefore, can be included in a personal injury claim.
Loss of Consortium
Traditionally, loss of consortium referred to the impact of a spouse’s injury on the marital relationship. However, the definition has expanded over the years in many jurisdictions to include the relationships between parents and children, and vice versa.
When a person is seriously injured, it can drastically affect their relationship with their spouse or family. The injury can impede the injured person’s ability to show affection, participate in recreational activities, perform household tasks, or maintain a sexual relationship. All of these changes can lead to a claim for loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium comprises several elements, including:
- Loss of Love and Affection: This refers to the negative impact an injury may have on the emotional aspects of a relationship.
- Loss of Companionship: This pertains to the diminished capacity to spend time together or participate in shared activities due to the injury.
- Loss of Services: This includes the practical aspects of a relationship, such as household chores, child-rearing, and other responsibilities that the injured person can no longer fulfill.
- Loss of Sexual Relations: In a spousal relationship, an injury may impede the injured person’s ability to maintain a sexual relationship, which is a valid component of a loss of consortium claim.
Loss of Companionship
Loss of companionship and society is a legal term referring to the intangible benefits that a family member provides to another, which are lost due to an injury or death caused by another’s negligence. As part of non-economic damages, it compensates for the deprivation of love, affection, care, comfort, companionship, moral support, and familial relationships that cannot be quantified monetarily.
When an injury or death disrupts these relationships, Texas law allows for compensation under the category of loss of companionship and society. This type of loss is typically claimed in wrongful death cases by the deceased’s immediate family members. However, it may also be applicable in cases where a severe injury has led to a significant change in the family dynamic.
Victims Entitled to Non-Economic Damages
In Texas, parties who have suffered physical, emotional, or reputational harm due to another party’s negligence or intentional misconduct are entitled to seek non-economic damages. While non-economic damages typically apply to the injured party, it can extend to other parties in some cases, including:
Plaintiffs in Personal Injury Cases
The primary claimants for non-economic damages are the individuals directly injured due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing. This can include victims of car accidents, property accidents, defective products, and other incidents that result in personal injury.
These individuals can seek compensation for a variety of non-economic damages including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and injury to reputation, among others.
Spouses, Parents, and Children
In cases involving serious injuries or wrongful death, the immediate family members of the injured party—namely spouses, parents, and children—may also be entitled to non-economic damages.
Spouses can claim loss of consortium, which covers loss of companionship, affection, support, and marital relations. Parents may seek damages for the loss of their child’s companionship and society, and children can claim damages for loss of parental companionship, guidance, and support. In wrongful death cases, these family members may also seek compensation for their mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering.
Proving Negligence in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Victims of negligence in Texas can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. However, proving negligence and demonstrating the extent of non-economic damages requires a comprehensive understanding of the law and an ability to navigate the complexities of personal injury cases.
In Texas, proving negligence requires four elements:
Duty of Care
The first step is demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. A duty of care represents the obligation to act with reasonable care to prevent harm to others. The specifics of this duty can vary depending on the relationship between the parties and the circumstances of the case. For instance, drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road to operate their vehicles safely.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty of care has been established, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached this duty. A breach occurs when the defendant’s actions fail to meet the standard of care expected in the given situation. This could be something like a driver speeding or a doctor failing to provide the standard level of care.
The third element is causation, meaning the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the injury. This often involves showing that the injury would not have occurred ‘but for’ the defendant’s negligence. In many cases, expert testimony is used to establish causation.
Lastly, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages can be economic, such as medical expenses and lost wages, or non-economic, like pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
These elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which means it is more likely than not that the defendant was negligent. Proving negligence often requires thorough investigation, collection of evidence, legal analysis, and oexpert testimony.
The attorneys at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group have extensive experience in demonstrating negligence and securing compensation for victims of personal injury. If you believe your injury resulted from another’s negligence, contact us today at (817) 207-4878. (HURT)
Documenting Non-Economic Damages
The intangible nature of non-economic damages makes them more challenging to demonstrate than economic losses. However, the evidence can include medical records, testimonies from mental health professionals, and personal testimony about the victim’s pain and suffering.
Keeping a thorough record of the impacts of your injury is critical to supporting your claim for non-economic damages. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Maintain a Personal Diary: Document your physical pain, emotional distress, and how the injury affects your daily life. Record the frequency and intensity of pain, emotional ups and downs, and specific activities or events missed due to the injury.
2. Gather Witness Testimonies: Statements from family, friends, and coworkers who can attest to the impact of the injury on your life can be valuable evidence.
3. Collect Professional Assessments: Reports from healthcare providers, psychologists, or therapists can substantiate your claims of physical pain, emotional distress, or psychological trauma.
4. Photographs and Videos: Visual evidence can portray the extent of injuries, ongoing treatment, and how your life has been affected.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Calculating non-economic damages is more complex due to their subjective nature. However, two common methods are often used:
Per Diem Method: A monetary value is assigned to each day from the date of the injury until you reach maximum recovery, and these daily amounts are totaled.
Multiplier Method: This method involves multiplying the total of your economic damages by a certain number (usually between 1.5 to 5), based on the severity of your injury, the extent of your pain and suffering, and the impact on your life.
Navigating through the process of documenting and calculating non-economic damages can be a daunting task. At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we have the expertise to handle complex injury calculations and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (817) 207-4878 (HURT).
Seeking Compensation for Non-Economic Damages in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Pursuing non-economic damages in a Texas personal injury case can be a complex process. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you understand how to seek compensation for these intangible losses.
Step 1: Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney
The first step in seeking compensation for non-economic damages is to consult with a personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the specifics of your case and guide you through the legal process. Remember, at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we offer a free consultation and operate on a contingency fee basis—meaning there’s no upfront cost to you.
Step 2: Investigation and Documentation
Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident to gather evidence. This involves documenting your injuries, collecting medical records, and accumulating evidence of your non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and other relevant damages.
Step 3: Establishing Negligence
The success of a personal injury claim hinges on demonstrating that the other party was negligent. This requires showing that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty, and that this breach directly resulted in your injuries and subsequent non-economic damages.
Step 4: Calculating Damages
Once negligence has been established, your attorney will work to calculate a fair value for your damages. This might involve using the per diem or multiplier method, or relying on expert witness testimony to quantify your intangible losses.
Step 5: Negotiation and Litigation
Armed with the evidence and a calculation of damages, your attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company in an attempt to secure a fair settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will prepare to take your case to court.
Step 6: Trial and Verdict
At trial, your attorney will present your case, including evidence of negligence and your damages. The jury will then determine liability and, if the defendant is found liable, decide on the amount of compensation you should receive1.
How Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group Can Help
The Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group excels in personal injury cases, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Our team will thoroughly investigate your case, gather the necessary evidence, and advocate tirelessly on your behalf.
We understand that each case is unique, and we tailor our approach to meet your specific needs. We’re committed to securing the compensation you deserve, whether it’s through negotiation or a trial. What’s more, we operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay a dime unless we win your case.
Remember, the timeline for seeking compensation can vary depending on the specifics of your case. It’s crucial to act quickly to preserve evidence and meet the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas. If you need assistance with a personal injury claim, contact Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group today at (817) 207-4878 (HURT).
FAQS about Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In Texas personal injury cases, there are three primary types of damages that a victim can pursue:
- Economic Damages: These are quantifiable losses directly resulting from the injury, including medical bills, lost wages, and future loss of earning capacity.
- Non-Economic Damages: These are intangible losses that cannot be easily quantified, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive Damages: Also known as exemplary damages, these are awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was especially harmful or egregious, intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior1.
Compensatory damages aim to restore the victim to the position they were in before the injury. They include both economic damages (like medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages (like pain and suffering).
Yes, Texas does impose caps on non-economic damages in certain cases. For instance, in medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 per healthcare provider, with a total cap of $500,000 across multiple providers3.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would in the same situation, leading to injury or harm. Proving negligence requires demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty, breached that duty, and that the breach was a proximate cause of the injury.
A contingency fee means that you don’t pay anything upfront, there’s no cost for a consultation, and there is no legal fee until we win the case.
While it’s technically possible to pursue a personal injury claim without a lawyer, it’s generally advisable. The legal process can be complex, and without legal expertise, you may struggle to secure the full compensation you deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney can navigate the legal system, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate on your behalf.
If you have more questions or need assistance with a personal injury claim, contact Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group today at (817) 207-4878.