Intangible damages are harms like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. They do not have a specific monetary value assigned to them like medical expenses or lost wages would. Calculating intangible damages is more challenging than evaluating tangible losses because they are not harms that can be easily identified with a bill.
Understanding Intangible Damages
In a personal injury case, damages are divided into tangible and intangible damages. Tangible damages can be easily quantified, while the monetary value of intangible damages may not be as obvious. Tangible damages, referred to as economic damages, include medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, and property damages. Intangible damages, referred to as non-economic damages, include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is an award of damages for the pain that caused by a physical injury. It is an intangible damage that can’t be measured or calculated by any test or study. Damages awarded for pain and suffering are largely discretionary and can include monetary awards for present and future pain and suffering with supporting medical evidence.
Emotional distress, or mental anguish, is the anxiety, depression, and emotional suffering resulting from an injury. Due to the ambiguous nature of emotional distress, an injury victim must show clear medical evidence provided by a licensed medical professional. If an appeal is filed, an injury victim needs to prove the nature, duration, and severity of the emotional distress.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship and society that occurs in certain family relationships when there is a significant injury or loss of life to one party in the relationship. In a marital relationship, loss encompasses the loss of a spouse, love, affection and comfort, companionship, emotional support, and sexual relations. Between parents and children, loss encompasses the loss of love, support, encouragement, instruction, and guidance that a parent would have provided.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Damages awarded for loss of enjoyment of life are based on changes in a person’s normal life or lifestyle, or a person’s inability to participate in former pleasures or activities of life that were enjoyed prior to his/her personal injury.
Evidence for intangible damages often includes reports from mental health professionals, the testimony of family and friends, psychological narratives, and other evidence that proves the elements of intangible damages.