Posted in News on February 23, 2021
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, then you deserve compensation for what happened. Most people understand that they are able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and various other out-of-pocket expenses they incur due to the injury.
However, people often ask whether or not they are able to recover compensation for their emotional and psychological damages following an injury. Here, we want to discuss whether or not these types of non-economic damages are available for personal injury cases in Montana.
Understanding Non-Economic Damages
We mentioned compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses above. These are all considered types of “economic” damages that could be awarded to a personal injury victim. In general, economic damages are relatively easy to calculate by gathering up various types of bills, receipts, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.
However, there are also “non-economic” damages that can be awarded to personal injury victims as a result of a successful lawsuit. These are often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. Included in pain and suffering is emotional and psychological damages that an injury victim may sustain.
How Do Courts Rule on Damages?
Non-economic damages, including emotional and psychological damages, are harder to assess than economic damages. That is because this type of suffering is relatively immeasurable. There is no way to go gather up receipts or bills that quantify the level of pain and suffering a person experiences after an injury.
Properly calculating non-economic damages in the aftermath of an injury claim can be challenging, but attorneys will often use what is called a “multiplier method.” When using this method, an attorney will add up all of the victim’s economic damages to reach a total. The attorney will then take that total and multiply it by a set number (usually ranging from 1.5 to 5) to reach the total for the non-economic damages.
However, a court will still need to see some sort of evidence showing the level of emotional and psychological trauma the victim has experienced. In these cases, the court can include testimony from mental health professionals and therapists to help determine the extent of the pain and suffering. This can include answering questions such as:
- Did the injury affect the plaintiff’s day-to-day life?
- Did the injury affect the plaintiff’s professional or personal relationships?
- Has the injury affected sleep, fitness, or other lifestyle factors?
- Will the injury have a long-term impact on the plaintiff’s life?
Are There Caps on Emotional and Psychological Damages in Montana?
Some states in this country impose damage caps on the total amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
However, there is currently no damage cap on personal injury cases in Montana, except for medical malpractice claims. In a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff will be limited to recovering $250,000 in total non-economic damages. For any other injury claim aside from medical malpractice, a plaintiff can be awarded any amount of money that a jury sees fit to award for their economic and non-economic compensation.