Non-Economic Damages in West Virginia Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury matters such as car accident lawsuits, medical malpractice, and wrongful death suits often have more at stake than just the immediate medical costs associated with the plaintiff’s injury. There are additional consequences that stem from these injuries, both physical and non-physical, and while no amount of monetary reward can completely make up for these consequences, personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for their hardships. Continue reading below for more about the common types of non-economic damages associated with personal injury matters, and contact our knowledgeable West Virginia personal injury lawyers with any questions or if you have been injured and need help fighting for what you are owed.
Types of non-economic injuries
Typically, if a case involves a severe injury, at least some non-economic damage claims are available to pursue. These damages are not easy to calculate as they are often intangible and do not translate to specific numbers. The more severe the injury, the more non-economic damages may be available. Types of non-economic damages in West Virginia include:
- Physical pain and suffering. This is the most common category for intangible damages following an accident. While physical pain may not translate directly to additional medical bills later on, plaintiffs are entitled to damages for the pain they suffer as the result of an accident.
- Mental anguish and emotional distress. Serious accidents, especially near-death experiences, can cause psychological effects that can last for years afterwards.
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life. Injuries can leave a plaintiff physically or mentally unable to enjoy their lives to the fullest either temporarily or permanently.
- Loss of companionship. Plaintiffs can recover damages if an injury leaves them temporarily unable to enjoy intimacy with their spouse.
- Loss of future earning capacity. Plaintiffs can recover if an accident reduces their ability to perform their job in the future.
- Cognitive difficulties.
Courts will consider a variety of factors to determine the amount of non-economic damages to award in a case. These factors include, among others: the severity of the injury, such as whether there is permanent damage; the degree of suffering, especially if the pain is chronic and continuing; and the age of the victim, particularly if a young person is permanently injured and will have to live with that injury for a long time.
West Virginia Medical Malpractice Damage Caps
As we have reported, West Virginia includes caps on the amount of non-economic damages available in medical malpractice cases ($250,000, or $500,000 for wrongful death or serious permanent injury, as well as $500,000 for punitive damages). Non-medical malpractice personal injury cases, however, such as auto accidents, premises and product liability cases, carry no cap on the amount of non-economic damages available, except for punitive damages, which are limited to $500,000 or four times the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
Notably, in West Virginia, a plaintiff can seek damages for pain and suffering even if a judge or jury determines that the plaintiff is partially at fault; under West Virginia’s comparative negligence rules, the total award will simply be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to the plaintiff. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 but is found to be 15% responsible for the accident, the award will be reduced to $85,000. A skilled attorney can make sure you are appropriately compensated for these intangible damages following an injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact the seasoned and effective Martinsburg personal injury attorneys at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson at 304-263-0900 or (304) LAWYERS for a free consultation.