Personal injury victims in Florida are entitled to financial compensation for their injuries. The legal term for compensation received by an injury victim in a personal injury lawsuit is damages.
Damages are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages compensate injury victims for tangible, monetary losses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, compensate victims for the intangible, non-financial harms they suffer due to an accident.
Non-economic damages in Florida typically accompany economic damages. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to both types of compensation. In this article, we examine non-economic losses in Florida.
What Are Non-Economic Damages in Florida?
Non-economic damages are payments made to a plaintiff in a personal injury case to compensate them for their intangible losses. They are the non-financial ways that an accident victim suffers due to an injury.
Non-economic damages place a monetary amount on intangible losses so that a personal injury victim can recover fair compensation for the multiple ways they suffered due to an accident or injury.
Examples of Non-Economic Damages
Common types of non-economic damages in Florida include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost companionship and lost sexual function, also known as loss of consortium
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Physical impairment
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety
Other non-economic damages may apply, depending on the facts of your accident, injuries, and diminishment in quality of life.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are an additional type of damage that a plaintiff may receive in a personal injury lawsuit. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not compensatory in nature: they’re not intended to compensate an injury victim for the losses they have experienced. Rather, such damages are awarded to punish the negligent party for reckless behavior or intentional actions.
In addition to serving a punitive function, courts award these types of damages to deter similar conduct in the future. For example, a court may force a manufacturer to pay punitive damages for knowingly selling a dangerous or defective product. And on a smaller scale, a drunk driver may be ordered to pay punitive damages due to their reckless decision to drive while intoxicated.
How Florida Courts Calculate Non-Economic Damages
In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge will instruct the jury on how to calculate damages. A plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer must prove their client’s non-economic losses to the jury during trial. To do so, the injured party’s attorney must collect and present solid evidence of all the harm suffered by the plaintiff. In some cases, non-economic damages may require expert testimony.
Because non-economic damages don’t have a clear financial value, several methods and formulas are used to calculate their worth.
One such formula is called the multiplier method. The multiplier method uses a plaintiff’s economic damages to estimate their non-economic damages. To calculate non-economic damages using the multiplier method, the court assigns a number – typically between 1.5 and 5 – based on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The more severe the plaintiff’s injuries, the higher the number used for the multiplier. Then, the court multiplies that number by the plaintiff’s economic damages to determine the value of their non-economic damages.
Deadline For Pursuing Non-Economic Damages in Florida
Florida law establishes deadlines by which an injured party must file a lawsuit after suffering an injury. These statutory deadlines are known as statutes of limitation.
The deadline for filing most types of personal injury lawsuits in Florida is four years from the date of the injury. However, wrongful death cases typically have a two-year statute of limitations. If an injured party misses the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit, they lose the right to obtain financial compensation for their injuries.
Is There a Non-Economic Damage Cap in Florida?
In Florida, there is currently no cap on non-economic damages. So, personal injury accident victims in Florida can seek the full extent of their non-economic damages. Although the Florida legislature attempted to impose a statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, the Florida Supreme Court struck it down in 2017 as unconstitutional.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer For Help Calculating Your Economic and Non-Economic Damages
If you’ve been injured in an accident in the state of Florida, you need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney in your corner. Our attorneys from Winters and Yonker, P.A. will do everything in our power to help you obtain the money you deserve for pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life, and more.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.