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Florida Personal Injury Damages: Economic, Non-Economic, and Punitive

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Posted By Legal Team | August 4 2023 | Personal Injury

When a person sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another party, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. Personal injury claims can be challenging, and we encourage injury victims to work with an attorney who can help them move forward with their claims. Here, we want to discuss three different types of damages that could be available for an injury claim: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are often referred to as special damages, and this is what most people likely think about when they hear about people recovering compensation after sustaining an injury. These types of losses can be referred to as “calculable,” which means an injury victim and their personal injury legal team can gather all verifiable proof of an expense or expected expense to claim damages. For example, bills, receipts, and invoices that a victim receives can help establish economic damages. Some of the most common economic damages claimed during a civil legal action include:

  • Emergency medical bills
  • Ongoing hospital and doctor visits
  • Rehabilitation, physical therapy, and medical devices
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Lost income or loss of future earnings
  • Property damage expenses
  • Household out-of-pocket losses arising due to the injury

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are also referred to as general damages, and these types of losses are typically considered more “immeasurable” than the economic damages mentioned above. However, just because something is not as specifically calculable does not mean it is less important. Non-economic damages focus on a victim’s:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

There are very accepted calculation methods to determine how much a person should receive and non-economic damages. One method is called the “multiplier method,” which takes the total of the economic damages and then multiplies that total by a set number, typically a number ranging from 1.5 to 5. Let us suppose that a person sustains $50,000 worth of economic damages, and a multiplier of “three” is used. This would equal a non-economic damage total of $150,000.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are also referred to as exemplary damages in some areas, and these are designed to act as a punishment to a defendant as well as a deterrent to any others who may have considered behaving or acting in the same way. Under Florida law, punitive damages are only awarded in rare circumstances, including when the defendant’s conduct was found to be intentional or as a result of gross negligence with disregard for the safety or life of others.

New Tort Reform Changes

The new Florida tort reform law that went into force in March of 2023 provided uniform standards to help juries calculate the value of medical damages in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Under the changes, in order to prove the amount of damages for past or future medical treatment, evidence will now be limited to evidence of how much is actually paid. This amount will vary depending on where the payment comes from (private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, no insurance, or letters of protection). 

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