Non-economic Damages

Non-Economic Damages in wrongful death cases

NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES

What are Non-economic Damages and How Can Your Attorney Obtain Them in Your Wrongful Death Case

In a California wrongful death case, a distinction exists between economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refers to compensation for those actual losses and expenditures suffered by the plaintiffs. In other words, economic damages are those losses that can be established with a reasonable degree of certainty using receipts, bills, time and wage statements, and other such objective evidence. For example, funeral expenses and burial costs are common examples of economic damages. Non-economic damages, by contrast, are meant to compensate the plaintiffs for those losses that cannot be easily quantified. For example, loss of consortium – the loss of the deceased’s presence and company – is an example of non-economic damages. How is a wrongful death attorney able to help you establish a figure for your non-economic damages and (more importantly) prove that this amount is what is fair and just in your wrongful death case?

Defense Attorneys Try to Minimize Your Non-economic Loss

A common tactic of many defense attorneys in wrongful death cases is to attempt to minimize your non-economic losses through phrases and arguments such as:

  • “No amount of money will bring your loved one back from the dead;”
  • “Non-economic damages add insult to injury and are an abuse of the judicial system;”
  • “By seeking non-economic damages, you are attempting to profit off of your loved one’s loss.”

While there may be some truth in these arguments, the truth is that not having the deceased around hurts – and this is a hurt for which the law permits you to seek compensation. But in today’s society, where increasing numbers of people view large jury awards and settlements with some degree of disapproval, these arguments may be readily accepted by jurors in your wrongful death case. It is important that you and your attorney take affirmative action to protect your ability to pursue non-economic damages.

What Can I Do To Increase My Likelihood of Recovering Non-economic Damages?

You and your attorney can take several actions throughout the preparation and presentation of your wrongful death lawsuit to increase the likelihood of obtaining non-economic damages. These include:

  • Thinking of specific examples: Simply stating the deceased is no longer around and that you miss him or her does not convey the gravity of the loss you and your family have experienced. Think of specific activities in which you and the deceased engaged that you are no longer able to engage in, like a favorite sport or hobby you shared with the deceased, a weekly night out, or the presence of that person to help calm your children during a thunderstorm. The mores specific you get, the more impact your statements in and out of court can have. Consider collecting photographs, writings, trophies, and other personal mementos and having these available for trial.
  • Consider enlisting members of the community: If there are members of the community who had a relationship with the deceased, consider asking them to be available to be deposed, to give statements, or to testify at trial about their specific memories of the deceased and the activities they will no longer engage in with the deceased. This helps not only humanize the deceased but also provide some corroboration for your own statements concerning your losses.
  • Emphasizing the traits of the deceased regularly throughout trial: Your attorney should take advantage of opportunities to describe the deceased as a person throughout the trial. By the end of your wrongful death trial, the jury should be able to appreciate the deceased as a person and better understand your loss.
  • Reframing the purpose for non-economic damages: Finally, your attorney should refute any suggestion that your pursuit of non-economic damages is somehow motivated by a desire to profit off of the deceased’s death or that you are asking the jury to feel sorry for you. Your attorney may be able to describe non-economic damages as a debt owed by the defendant that you are attempting to collect. This makes it less likely that the jury will view you in a negative light for seeking non-economic damages.

If a loved one has been killed by another’s negligent or by their reckless behavior, call 916-921-6400 for a free consultation. My name is Ed Smith. I am a Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer since 1982. Give me a call for free, friendly advice at 916-921-6400 or toll free at 800-404-5400.

We’ve made it very convenient to check our customer reviews. Click on these: Yelp, Avvo, and Google Plus.

The Law Offices of Edward A. Smith are active members in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

 

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia (Public Domain) Commons 

 

 

Updated:

Client Reviews

  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
    Sincerely,
    ★★★★★
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation.
    ★★★★★
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything.
    ★★★★★
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime.
    ★★★★★
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone.
    ★★★★★
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury.
    ★★★★★