Economic and Non-economic Damages/Losses
According to the Cornell Law School – Legal Information Institute the term damages refers to “the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right.” Therefore, damages is a sum of money paid to the plaintiff in a lawsuit to compensate for an injury or loss or in order to punish the defendant for wrongdoing. While there may be different types of damages they all ultimately are reduced to a dollar amount that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff for losses.
All damages fall into two basic categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are used to compensate plaintiffs for their injuries. That is to say to restore the injured plaintiff to the condition he or she was or would have been in had the injury not occurred and this is done by attaching a dollar value to each of the injuries or losses the plaintiff suffered. There are two categories of compensatory damages that compensate for economic losses and for non-economic losses.
These are sometimes called special damages. They refer to money or property that the plaintiff lost as a result of injuries. These include the following:
- Medical expenses – this includes bills from a doctor, hospital, pharmacy, physical therapist, etc. If the injury requires ongoing medical care it is necessary to demand future medical expenses to cover those costs too
- Cost of disability – if your injury requires that you change your lifestyle in some way you may be entitled to any expenses incurred making those adjustments. For example, the need to hire someone to perform household chores.
These compensate plaintiffs for aspects of their injuries that are hard to quantify. These include the following:
- Loss of consortium – if your injuries have a negative impact on your relationship with your spouse, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Pain and suffering – this is compensation for the pain, anguish or loss of enjoyment of life because of your injury.