The Difference Between Economic and Noneconomic Damages

Recently, we shared a blog post about the types of damages car accident victims commonly claim in litigation against the party responsible for the crash. You can read that post here.

There are a lot of ways that serious injuries sustained in a traffic collision can affect your life. You may be permanently or temporarily disabled. If you are able to recover, the process can take months or years of painful, grueling rehabilitation, during which time you may not be physically able of returning to work to support yourself and your family.These losses are fairly easy to calculate by looking at, say, the plaintiff’s medical bills and what he or she earned in salary before the accident. They are known as economic damages.

But economic damages rarely tell the whole story. Beyond the easily quantifiable numbers, there is an injured person. He or she has likely suffered great pain from his or her injuries. He or she may have been traumatized by the accident and dealing with mental anguish as a result.

His or her quality of life has suffered; he or she cannot enjoy the same activities as before the crash. Meanwhile, his or her spouse no longer can enjoy the full benefits of marriage, such as companionship, emotional support, and physical affection.

These things are called “noneconomic damages.” For the plaintiff, they are no less real than their other losses, but it can be harder to put a dollar figure on what it would take to make the plaintiff “whole” again.

Many states put a limit, or cap, on noneconomic damages. However, New York State is not among them.

Howard Raphaelson
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Established in New York, NY, his personal injury law firm has obtained numerous million-dollar verdicts. With over twenty-five years of experience as a personal injury attorney, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).
View Attorney Profile