What are Economic Damages?


Jan Reburiano

Economic damages are the monetary losses you experience as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate harm. You can sue for these types of damages so your past, present, and future losses are covered by the guilty party. Economic damages have a strict numerical value as it’s connected to tangible assets.

You might not have time to calculate your damages when suffering an event that caused you physical and emotional harm. You and your loved ones need time to recover. Without a personal injury attorney on your side to calculate your economic damages, your settlement may be lower than planned.

This guide is an overview of economic damages, but for more direct legal advice, consult an attorney near your area using LegalASAP’s network of 500+ law firms across the United States. A personal injury attorney knows how to prove economic damages in a court of law.

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Types of Economic Damages

Economic damages come in a multitude of forms that’re not limited to the examples below. These are only the most numerous types of economic damages caused by common torts like auto accidents and medical malpractice. Consult with your attorney directly to know whether your specific loss is considered an economic damage.

Medical Expenses

You may incur medical expenses for your treatment after suffering personal injury as a result of someone else’s actions. Examples of medical expenses may include:

  • Physical therapy bills
  • Surgery expenses
  • Expenses for medication
  • Hospital room stays
  • Doctor visits
  • X-ray scans
  • Mental health counseling

Not only will your settlement compensate for current medical expenses, but it will compensate for future medical expenses as well. Economic damages will only cover medical expenses caused by the accident and not other unrelated conditions.

Further examination from your physician and attorney will determine how much medical costs you’re awarded. The more severe the injury, the greater the medical costs.

Lost Wages

Suffering from an injury may force you out of work for a certain period of time as you recover. That injury may even force you to take sick leave, or even make you leave your job entirely. During recovery, you may be entitled to be compensated for lost wages that cover your time unemployed.

Recovering lost wages is one of the main reasons to notify your employer of your medical condition. If you qualify for your lost wages, all of the vacation time, sick leave, and paid time off used for recovery will be paid for.

Lost Earning Capacity

If you lose your earning capacity as a result of someone’s negligent actions, you may be compensated for your losses. You must prove that your injury negatively affects your ability to generate income.

Examples of economic damages that determine your lost earning capacity after an accident are:

  • Severity of your injury
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Present and future earning potential
  • Amount of working years before retirement
  • Life expectancy before the injury
  • Potential salary, bonuses, cost-of-living increases before the accident

Lost earning capacity is tricky to calculate because you must prove damages that’ll happen in the future rather than present injuries. Your injury doesn’t have to be permanent for you to recover damages for lost earning capacity. You may still suffer from an injury with uncertain effects and duration, like traumatic brain injury.

If you are still able to work in a diminished state, you may still be compensated for lost earning capacity from your condition.

Property Damage

If your property was damaged as a result of an accident, you may be compensated for repairs. Replacements and reduction in value of your property will also be compensated for after a personal injury.

Other Expenses

The examples above are not the only types of economic damages available to you after an accident. Below are other types of economic damages recognized by state and federal law:

  • Travel expenses to and from medical treatment
  • Expenses to promote daily living like bathing and feeding
  • Special medical equipment
  • Assistance with household care related to your injury

It’s important to document your expenses after a personal injury for your attorney to potentially record them as economic damages. Keep copies of receipts, bills, and invoices so your attorney can track how much you’re owed.

Collateral Source Rule and Economic Damages

The collateral source rule prevents damages from being reduced when it is compensated for by another party. Many states carry stipulations regarding this rule, so talk to your attorney to verify how collateral source evidence is handled in your state.

An example of the collateral source rule taking effect is when collision coverage pays for the repair bills of your vehicle. If collateral source rule extends to property damage in your state, you get compensated even though the repairs were paid for by your insurance policy.

Other Types of Damages in Tort Lawsuits

Not only can you be compensated for economic damages, but you may qualify for non-economic damages as well.

Non-economic damages are the intangible losses suffered as a result of an accident. These include losses like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

Punitive damages are another type of compensation designed to punish the guilty party for excessively reckless or malicious behavior. These damages are not to compensate for your losses, but to prevent further actions from happening in the future.

Value Your Economic Damages With A Personal Injury Attorney

If you have trouble valuing your damages after an accident, we highly suggest you connect with a personal injury attorney for legal assistance. LegalASAP is connected to law firms from across the United States ready to help you with your case.

Personal injury attorneys generally work under contingency fees, meaning you won’t have to pay up-front until you win your settlement. Make sure to file as soon as possible, because you have a limited time to file your claim before your case is invalid.

If you are ready to see whether you qualify for a personal injury claim, call 888-927-3080 or fill out the short evaluation form below:

Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.