In personal injury cases, plaintiffs can seek compensation for three types of losses, or damages. These are economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages. Of the three, economic damages such as medical costs and lost wages due to the inability to work are the easiest to quantify and understand. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life are less so.
The legal definition of loss of enjoyment of life
In a legal context, loss of enjoyment of life is defined as the plaintiff’s inability to do certain things that he or she could do prior to getting hurt. The inability to engage in these tasks or activities must be due to loss of function, pain, or other factors stemming directly from the personal injury in question.
Personal injuries that tend to generate the loss of enjoyment of life claims include:
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Injuries causing blindness or deafness
- Significant burn injuries
This is because they are most likely to hinder the plaintiff’s ability to do simple, but essential tasks and things he or she once enjoyed. Examples include showering, grocery shopping, doing laundry, taking out the trash and walking the dog. Additional examples include the inability to participate in activities such as playing golf, bowling or even going to the movies.
How to prove loss of enjoyment of life
To be compensated for loss of enjoyment of life, the plaintiff must prove that he or she did certain things before the personal injury accident occurred. He or she must also prove that he or she can no longer do those things because of the injury he or she sustained.
To do so, the plaintiff will usually testify, if possible. His or her friends and loved ones will probably testify, too. Specifically, they will testify about the things that the plaintiff did and enjoyed prior to getting hurt. They will also testify about how the injury affected the plaintiff’s ability to do those things. The plaintiff’s doctors and other experts may testify as well.
Quantifying loss of enjoyment of life
Several factors are taken into account when quantifying loss of enjoyment of life. Determinations about compensation in California personal injury cases is typically based on:
- The plaintiff’s age
- The way the plaintiff looks
- The plaintiff’s educational background and work history
- Where the plaintiff lives
- The extent of the plaintiff’s injuries,
- The immediate and long-term ramifications of the injury
- The types of activities/tasks the plaintiff can no longer do/enjoy.
Furthermore, the plaintiff may enlist expert witnesses to help judges and juries quantify loss of enjoyment of life. These experts may employ certain methods to help ascribe a monetary value to a human life. For example, depending on the specific circumstances of the case they may:
- Assess how much companies spend on safety devices to mitigate the risk of serious injury or fatalities, such as air bags or seat belts
- Multiply this amount by the percentage of loss of enjoyment the plaintiff incurred because of the injury in question.
If you were injured in a Los Angeles accident where someone else was at fault, it is important that you consult a qualified personal injury attorney. The personal injury lawyers here at the Law Office of Parag L. Amin P.C. can easily assess your situation to determine if you have a viable case. If so, we will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. To get started, contact us to arrange a free consultation. You can find out how to reach us, here.