What Are Economic and Noneconomic Damages?
The types of damages you can recover in a personal injury claim depend on the type of case, the circumstances of your accident and injuries, and the laws of your state. In general, these damages may be split into two main categories: economic and noneconomic.
Below is an overview of each category and what they include, especially as they relate to West Virginia law.
Compensation for medical bills makes up the largest chunk of economic damages in personal injury claims. If the plaintiff must undergo any type of testing or treatment, or receives any additional medical care (such as a nursing home stay or physical therapy), they may sue to have the defendant pay for all those costs. Given the high costs of medical care in this country, this can become quite expensive, especially if the plaintiff has become permanently disabled and needs ongoing treatment.
Lost wages are also considered economic damages. This includes payment for any wages missed because the plaintiff had to take time off work to recover from an injury.
Noneconomic damages are not as easy to calculate, as there is no clear financial cost associated with them. For example, a court might seek to compensate plaintiffs for their pain and suffering, loss of companionship, emotional distress or loss of future earning capacity. These are all examples of noneconomic damages.
West Virginia has caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, a $250,000 cap on routine accident claims, along with a $500,000 cap for wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases.