In personal injury claims, plaintiffs typically claim some form of compensatory damages, including non-economic damages. Non-economic injuries are not based on money, making them somewhat difficult to measure and compensate.
Non-economic damages represent deeply painful experiences and account for how the accident negatively affected your life. Measuring these damages is inherently subjective, and juries might use your economic damages to assess non-economic compensation. For example, your total non-economic damages might be calculated by multiplying your economic damages or assigning a monetary value to each day of suffering. Non-economic damages must be claimed in your initial complaint, or you risk losing them forever. While we can claim these damages in the complaint, the jury has the final say on their worth. Common examples of non-economic damages include pain, suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of the enjoyment of your life. In Illinois, non-economic damages are not capped by statute, but the judge might reduce excessive damages awards.
Call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 to schedule a private, free review of your claims with our Illinois personal injury lawyers.
How to Calculate Non-Economic Damages in Illinois
Since non-economic damages are typically unrelated to money, determining how much financial compensation they warrant can be challenging. There are a couple of common methods used in many cases to evaluate non-economic damages. The multiplier method uses your economic damages calculation to decide non-economic damages. The per diem method focuses on the duration of your non-economic damages. Talk to your attorney about your situation, as other options might be available in your case.
The multiplier method uses your economic damages to calculate the value of non-economic damages. Typically, jurors will decide upon a multiplier number, usually between 1 and 5. The more serious your injuries, the higher the multiplier number. Next, the jury will multiply your economic damages by the multiplier number to arrive at your non-economic damages.
To put it another way, suppose your economic damages are worth $25,000. Next, suppose your injuries are quite severe, and the jury decides upon a multiplier number of 4. The jury would then multiply your economic damages by 4 to arrive at a non-economic damages calculation of $100,000.
Remember, non-economic damages are not an automatic extension of economic damages. Our Joliet, IL personal injury attorneys must have proof of your injuries and convince a jury that your non-economic losses and experiences are worth significant compensation.
Per Diem Method
Another popular method is the per diem method, where the duration of your non-economic injuries is the determining factor. Using this method, juries may assign a dollar amount to each day you endure non-economic injuries like pain and suffering. The greater your pain and suffering, the more money the jury might assign to each day.
For example, perhaps you were badly injured in an accident and spent 6 months in the hospital recovering and another 3 months enduring painful physical therapy. All in all that is 9 months of pain and suffering. Next, suppose we convince the jury that your injuries and pain were quite significant, so they assign a value of $400 to each day. Since 9 months is about 270 days, your total non-economic damages would be about $108,000.
The per diem method is helpful in cases where the plaintiff endured significant pain, suffering, humiliation, or other non-economic injuries over a long period of time. You should speak with your attorney to determine the best way to calculate non-economic damages in your lawsuit.
How to Claim Non-Economic Damages in a Lawsuit in Illinois
Part of what makes claiming non-economic damages difficult is that there are very subjective. For some, the pain and emotional anguish after an accident might feel insurmountable. For others, the pain might be a minor inconvenience. Non-economic damages tend to vary from person to person, and it is easy to disregard some injuries when estimating damages.
Your attorney can go over your case and help you identify possible non-economic injuries in your case. Although it is sometimes difficult to talk about the emotional toll an accident takes, it is necessary to determine damages for emotional or psychological pain and suffering.
It would be best if you also discussed how the accident and your injuries have impacted other areas of your life. Perhaps the accident was embarrassing, like a really bad slip and fall accident. That humiliation deserves compensation. Another possibility is that your personal or professional reputation has been tarnished because of the accident. For example, a trucker hurt in a car accident might find their reputation damaged by the experienced. These experiences should be factored into your non-economic damages.
Are There Limits in Illinois on Non-Economic Damages Awards?
In Illinois, there used to be limitations on non-economic damages. Plaintiffs could not recover beyond a specific amount even if their damages warranted higher compensation. However, the cap on non-economic damages was deemed unconstitutional. As of now, there are no caps on damages in Illinois.
While there are no statutory limits on damages, your damages might be limited in other ways. For example, economic damages are limited to actual expenses and costs. If you lost $10,000 because of an accident, your economic damages cannot be more than $10,000. The fact that your costs could have been higher under slightly different circumstances does not allow you to claim additional compensation.
It is also possible for the judge to reduce damages awards they believe are excessive. This is not unusual in cases where the defendant is especially unsympathetic, and jurors award exorbitant non-economic damages as a sort of punishment. The judge can reduce the non-economic damages award to something more reasonable and proportionate to your injuries.
Call Our Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys for Help
To set up a private case review free of charge, call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 and speak to our Aurora, IL personal injury lawyers.