Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case


With personal injury cases, the injured party (plaintiff) is seeking financial compensation to make up for the losses they experienced as a direct result of the injury. The legal term for this financial compensation is “damages.”

When someone is injured in an accident, it can lead to a variety of losses, such as medical bills, chiropractic bills, prescription costs, lost income, future medical bills, property damage to a vehicle, and so on – these all give rise to damages.

If the victim was married, his or her spouse could have had to take time off their job, or they may have had to leave their job to become their injured spouse’s full-time caregiver, so they too can suffer significant losses.

Two Types of Damages

In personal injury cases, damages can be broken down into two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to financial losses that are often easily supported by documentation, such as repair estimates, medical bills, lost income (can be supported by plaintiff’s previous pay stubs), prescription receipts, burial costs (wrongful death claims), and so on.

Non-economic damages on the other hand, are not as quantifiable, but they are still taken very seriously in the field of personal injury law. Non-economic damages include but are not limited to pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium, which refers to the loss of love, support, affection, etc. from a spouse or close family member.

Punitive Damages in Colorado

Under certain circumstances, a plaintiff can seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant for their wrongdoing. In Colorado, punitive damages may be awarded in a personal injury case when the plaintiff’s injuries were a direct result of fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct (acting with a reckless disregard for other people’s safety).

For instance, if an amusement park worker was under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance and he angrily pushed a customer off a platform and the man fell 20 feet and sustained a traumatic brain injury and a broken leg and arm, the injured man could sue for punitive damages because “malice” was involved. The act was purposeful and any reasonable person would know that such a fall could cause great harm.

To file a personal injury claim, contact my Denver personal injury firm for a free case evaluation. I look forward to assisting you!