What Are Economic Damages in New York?

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What Are Economic Damages in New York?

What Are Economic Damages in New York?Economic damages cover the costs from an accident that have a direct and measurable financial impact on you. These include out-of-pocket expenses, lost income, property damage or destruction, and a diminished earning capacity. Economic damages are usually proven using documentation from your doctor, employer, and repair shop (in the case of an auto accident).

Here are some of the things you should know about economic damages in New York and how you can properly document them for an insurer or jury to consider.

What Are Damages?

Damages compensate people for legally-recognized injuries. Some examples of injuries recognized in personal injury cases include:

Bodily Injuries

A physical injury no matter how minor, that was inflicted by someone else qualifies for damages. However, the severity of the injury does influence the amount of damages that will be compensated from the injury.

Mental Injuries

A mental injury can support a damage claim, just as a physical injury can.

Financial Injuries

Damages can compensate you for losing something of value, like the damage to a car after a car accident. Damages also compensate you for missed economic opportunities, such as lost income from missing work after a slip and fall accident.

These injuries provide the basis for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a quantifiable financial value. Non-economic damages do not. This is the primary difference between them.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are damages that have a direct financial impact on the injured person. Some examples of economic damages include:

Medical Expenses

Medical Expenses

Economic damages include costs incurred for medical treatments, psychiatric or physical therapy, and medications. They cover both out-of-pocket expenses and expenses paid by your health plan.

Unlike other states, New York law protects your settlement or damage award from your health insurer. Suppose your injury required $35,000 in treatment, of which your health insurer paid for $30,000 and you paid a $5,000 deductible. In New York, your health insurer cannot pursue you for reimbursement of the $30,000 it paid for your medical treatment after you win or settle your case.

Lost Income

Economic losses include wages and salary that you lost if your injuries prevented you from working. Your lost income is usually documented by showing a claim adjuster or jury copies of your pay stubs, as well as an opinion letter from your doctor explaining the ways in which your injuries prevented you from working.

Diminished Earning Capacity

Suppose you were injured in an accident and suffered from a severe brain injury. You might experience loss of coordination, fatigue, inability to focus, or other symptoms that could force you to change jobs. If your job change resulted in a reduced income, the diminished earning capacity can be claimed as a form of economic damages.

Property Loss

When a jury or insurance claim adjuster calculates your economic damages, it should include your property loss. For example, if your vehicle was crushed in a truck accident, your economic damages should include the repair or replacement cost of your vehicle.

In a typical case, you will have medical bills, insurance statements, pay stubs, and repair estimates to substantiate the value of your economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more difficult to evaluate. These damages compensate you for the non-financial aspects of your injuries.

For example, suppose you broke your leg in a motorcycle accident. Your economic damages would cover the financial aspects of your broken leg. The economic damages might cover the cost of your X-rays, cast, physical therapy, and pain medications. The economic damages also include the wages that you lost during the days you missed from work.

The non-economic damages might cover the pain, depression, anxiety, and an inability to drive for six weeks.

Non-economic damages are available in all personal injury cases. However, for auto accidents, New York law bars lawsuits for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, unless the injured person suffered from a serious injury.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Vehicle Accidents

Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Vehicle Accidents

New York uses a no-fault system of insurance. This makes New York’s treatment of economic and non-economic damages different from many other states.

In other states, the at-fault driver’s insurance provider is responsible for all losses that occur up to the policy limits. The at-fault driver must pay any amount of a damage award that exceeds the policy limits.

In New York, injured people must first file an insurance claim with their insurance company. This no-fault system ensures compensation for injured people regardless of fault. An injured person’s insurance company will cover up to $50,000 in economic damages, even if the injured person caused the accident. These damages are limited to bodily injuries and loss of earnings from work.

But the law has a tradeoff. Under New York’s no-fault system, an injured person cannot recover non-economic damages from their insurance company. Instead, an injured person can only seek non-economic damages in a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for a “serious injury” based on criteria dictated by law.

New York does not impose any caps on economic or non-economic damages. This allows injured people to fully recover economic damages to cover past losses and future expenses.

Tips For Recovering Economic Damage Awards

Your case will probably begin with the insurance provider for the person or business responsible for your injury. This is true whether your injury resulted from an auto accident, medical malpractice, or another type of personal injury. 

Some of the steps you can take to improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injury include:

  • Keep copies of your bills from hospitals, doctors, therapists, counselors, and pharmacies.
  • Ask your doctor to write a note for you if you must miss work. Make sure the doctor explains the reason you cannot work.
  • Get a copy of your pay stubs and sick time records from your employer.
  • Obtain repair estimates and keep your repair bills if your vehicle was damaged in an auto accident.

You should also consider hiring a lawyer to deal with the insurance company. A lawyer can help you calculate a value for your case. This value will guide the negotiations, so you will know when an offer from the insurance company is fair and should adequately cover your economic damages.