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What Is the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Understanding Compensation in a Personal Injury Case

Economic and non-economic damages are the main two types of damages a personal injury victim can recover.

Courts decide personal injury cases based on whether one party's negligence caused injury to another party. In New York, judges assign a percentage of fault, and based on that percentage you can recover compensation for damages. For example, if the judge assigns one driver 90 percent of the fault for causing a car accident, the injured victim can recover 90 percent of the damages being claimed.  However the rules are different for passengers injured in a motor vehicle accident, as joint and several liability is imposed upon defendants.  In those cases even if a defendant is only 1% responsible for the accident, such defendant is held responsible for 100% of the injured person’s damages.

Different Types of Damages—Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Economic and non-economic damages are the two most common types of damages claimed in a personal injury case.

Economic damages are the monetary losses that an accident caused. Examples include:

  • Property damage
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity due to disability
  • Rehabilitation
  • Assistance needed for household tasks
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses

Non-economic damages are less tangible, but can be every bit as damaging. Examples include past and future:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of consortium

In some cases, when the party causing injury was intentionally malicious or acted egregiously, the judge may award punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to deter and discourage similar conduct from occurring again.

Do you need a lawyer for personal injury case?

When serious injury occurs due to another person’s negligence, it is wise to seek legal representation. Insurance company attorneys generally represent defendants in personal injury cases. You are more likely to receive fair compensation when you have an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.

Our attorneys at Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLP can answer your questions in a free consultation and determine whether grounds exist to sue. Call us at  516-248-2234 or 718-539-3100 or reach out to us through our contact form.


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