How Do You Calculate Loss of Enjoyment of Life in Personal Injury Cases?
There are several types of injuries in personal injury cases that aren't necessarily easily calculable when it comes time to recover damages. Loss of enjoyment of life is one such injury.
This damage indicates an injury's impact on a victim's quality of life and compares their quality of life post-injury to the quality of life before the injury.
For instance, if you were an accomplished ballet dancer before an injury that caused your ankle to break, your quality of life after the injury would be significantly different than before, and the law believes you should be able to recover for that difference.
In other words, under California personal injury law, the concept of loss of enjoyment of life is related to the lasting impact an injury takes on the victim's quality of life, compared with their life before the injury occurred.
When calculating loss of enjoyment of life damages, the factors considered include the victim's age, work history, educational background, the severity of the injury and future impact, and the nature of the lost activity.
In legal terms, in personal injury cases, “loss of enjoyment of life” refers to when a person suffers a physical or mental injury that affects their ability to perform a given activity that gave them enjoyment before the injury.
For example, this could include recreational activities, family bonding time, social events with friends, traveling, volunteer work, hobbies, and careers.
Notably, these types of damages awarded in California are included in pain and suffering compensation rather than a separate damage award.
Loss of enjoyment of life falls under “compensatory damages," a plaintiff could be awarded in a personal injury case. Sometimes, they are even awarded punitive damages. Let's review this topic in more detail below.
What is the Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
The loss of enjoyment of life is used in personal injury cases to refer to when a person experiences a physical or mental injury that affects their ability to perform a particular activity that gave them enjoyment before the injury.
As noted, some examples of loss of enjoyment of life include losing the ability to perform specific, such as the following:
- Recreational activities,
- Participating in travel or volunteer opportunities,
- Contributing to particular aspects of the victim's career, or
- Bonding with family and friends.
How Do Courts Calculate Awards for Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
To determine that award for loss of enjoyment of life, courts will consider several factors, including:
- Consequences the injury could impose in the future,
- The nature of the activity the victim has lost,
- The severity of the injuries the victim has suffered,
- The victim's education and work experience,
- The victim's appearance,
- The age of the victim, and
- The location where they live.
In addition to these considerations, the plaintiff will also have an opportunity to present expert witnesses and economists who will help the court calculate the victim's loss of enjoyment of life more accurately. For example, an expert witness may present a formula to help the court apply a monetary value to human life.
What Other Types of Damages Are There?
In personal injury cases, plaintiffs can recover punitive damages and compensatory damages, such as the following:
- Compensatory damages are either economic, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or
- non-economic, such as pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Loss of enjoyment of life is an example of non-economic damage. It is important to note that compensatory damages are generally not limited. The court can award any fair and reasonable amount to the plaintiff.
Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages in that they are based on the unacceptable and disturbing nature of the defendant's actions.
The hope is that the defendant's malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent behavior is being punished by awarding them. Additionally, punitive damages are not granted in every case and largely depend on the defendant's ability to pay them.
As such, when they are awarded, many states have placed a limit on the amount a court can award. Also, punitive damages are awarded in addition to the compensatory damages the court awards.
How Can You Prove Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
To be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life, the plaintiff must prove that they did certain things before the personal injury accident occurred. They must also prove that they can no longer do those things because of the injury they sustained.
To prove this, the plaintiff or their family or friends could testify about what the plaintiff did and enjoyed before getting hurt. They might also testify how the injury affected the plaintiff's ability to do those things. Further, if necessary, the plaintiff's doctors and other experts might testify.
Does California Allow for Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages?
In short: yes. California does allow victims to recover for loss of enjoyment of life, but they are usually bundled under any compensation for pain and suffering and are not awarded separately. The court will still attempt to calculate the damages described in the section above.
The idea behind intangible damages like the loss of enjoyment of life is that victims should be compensated for losing the ability to show up in their lives like they would have had it not been for that particular injury.
A personal injury victim who is now paralyzed by an accident should not suffer through the loss of enjoyment of life because they can no longer spend significant time hiking in the mountains on the weekends.
Damages for the loss of enjoyment of life are an attempt to make right a wrong the victim has suffered that has changed their entire life in some great way.
If you have suffered a personal injury and can no longer enjoy life the same way you did before the injury, a skilled personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through making a loss of enjoyment of life claim.
We offer a free case evaluation and work on a contingency basis, meaning you don't pay any fees unless we win your case. The Injury Justice Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, California.