In Missouri, individuals injured through the negligence or recklessness of others in a personal injury case have the ability to seek compensation for both “tangible damages” and “intangible damages.” We have provided two posts to explain the difference between both types of damages. For more on “tangible damages” or “economic damages” please see our post about these types of damages. “Noneconomic” or “intangible damages” are those things that you cannot show through a medical bill or other objective evidence.
As the Missouri Supreme Court said, they “do not lend themselves to precise calculation,” and include recovery for things “such as past and future pain, suffering, effect on lifestyle, embarrassment, humiliation, and economic loss.” Alcorn v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 50 S.W.3d 226 (Mo. Banc. 2001).
First off, what are damages? Damages are something an injured person receives, through a settlement or jury verdict, to compensate them for the harms they suffered a result of that injury. In the American civil justice system, we use money to compensate people for their damages. Below are the types of “non-economic” or “intangible damages” you can receive in a Missouri personal injury case.
- Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering is the most commonly known category of “non-economic” or “intangible damages.” As mentioned above, compensation for these injuries cannot be put on a spreadsheet or a chart. They have to be argued and carefully explained to either the adjuster or to the jury. When describing pain and suffering, we will talk about our client’s pain, fears, lost sleep, worries, and their loss of enjoyment or quality of life.
- How our firm handles pain and suffering: When we talk to a jury or an adjuster, we emphasize that pain is the worst kind of personal injury. Even though you cannot feel the injured person’s pain, you can sometimes see it, and the injured person’s friends and loved ones can see it as well. Because of this, we take a hands-on approach to every case and interview witnesses, friends, family members, to get a picture of the person before and after the injury. We try our best to get into the shoes of our injured clients and see things from their perspective, and we communicate this to the jury through the testimony of friends, relatives, and other witnesses. Sometimes the whole case depends upon the testimony of these witnesses. For example, in one case we were able to show the jury testimony from a previous coworker who was not friends with our client how our client had changed after a wreck. The co-worker testified that our client was a hard worker and never complained before the wreck, but after the wreck our client slowed down and was constantly in pain. We believe this played a large part in a successful verdict for our client.
- Mental Anguish: In addition to pain and suffering, another type of harm injured people experience is mental anguish. Mental anguish is a broad category that includes things like emotional distress, fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, and loss of quality of life. In many car accident cases we see that injured people have lingering affects of PTSD and other types of mental anxiety. In severe cases, this can affect the injured person’s ability to function and be a productive member of society. In cases where a damages for mental anguish are demanded, it’s important to have a medical expert (among others) talk about the effects of the mental trauma and what that means for the injured person’s ability to function normally. Just as with pain and suffering, other witnesses such as friends, family, relatives, and co-workers help to paint a before and after picture of the person’s life.
- Lost time and Inconvenience: No one wants to get hurt. Most people avoid going to the doctor and don’t enjoy being in pain. Why? Because it’s inconvenient! An injured person did not asked to get hurt, go to countless medical treatments, and have her life turned upside down as a result of painful injuries. As a result, that person is entitled to the inconvenience that goes along with medical treatment, waiting to heal, not enjoying usual and leisurely activities, and relying upon friends and family to help out.
- As you can see, there are a variety of damages that an injured person can claim in a personal injury case. To make sure you get the compensation you deserve, make sure you demand compensation for all the damages you have suffered. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how our firm can help you with your personal injury case, do not hesitate to contact our office.