A person may incur substantial damages because of an accident or injury. Those damages include financial losses and personal injuries. An often overlooked damage that you can receive compensation for is diminished quality of life.
Quality of life refers to a person’s emotional, physical, and mental health. However, to define quality of life, you need to look beyond a person’s health-related quality of life.
The term quality of life also encompasses your overall satisfaction with your quality of living and enjoyment of life.
A decrease in your quality of life is a type of non-economic damage. You can recover compensation for the “pain and suffering” caused by the loss of enjoyment of life when you cannot enjoy the same quality of life you did because of an accident or injury.
Catastrophic Injuries Can Impact Your Quality of Life
An accident might result in traumatic or catastrophic injuries. These injuries can have a long-term impact on the person’s quality of life; their ability to enjoy activities and return to their daily routines might be impaired, for example.
Injuries and conditions that could decrease a person’s quality of life include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of limbs and amputations
- Injuries that result in damage to internal organs or loss of bodily functions
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Spinal cord injuries that cause partial or total paralysis
- Severe burns that result in considerable scarring
- Traumatic brain injuries that cause permanent brain damage
- Significant disfigurement
Disabling conditions can reduce a person’s overall contentment with life and enjoyment of life. The conditions can negatively impact the person’s sense of well-being, emotional health, and physical health.
How Is a Person’s Quality of Life After an Accident Determined?
To calculate the extent of the damage to a person’s quality of life after an injury, we must determine how the injury has impacted the person’s daily life. The severity and type of injury directly impact many areas of life.
Examples of ways an injury can impact a person’s daily life include:
- Being unable to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, etc.
- Suffering from anxiety or embarrassment because of a deformity, scarring, or disfigurement
- Inability to resume hobbies, sports, and recreational activities
- Being unable to bear children or engage in intimate relations with a partner
- Suffering from chronic and ongoing physical pain caused by permanent impairments
- Loss of companionship, affection, and society with family, friends, and other individuals
- Being unable to care for a spouse or children
- Emotional distress and mental anguish, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
Each person’s experience after an injury or accident is unique. Likewise, their quality of life and daily activities were unique to them before the accident. Therefore, the impact on their quality of life is unique.
Measuring the decrease in a person’s quality of life is more than claiming a specific injury. Two people who suffer the same injury may have very different lifestyles.
Therefore, all factors must be considered when determining whether an injury diminished a person’s quality of life.
How Are Values Placed on Diminished Quality of Life Claims?
As with other non-economic damages, quality of life claims a based on the facts of the case. Therefore, the greater the injury’s impact on the person’s quality of life, the higher the claim’s value.
A person with a high quality of life before an accident may receive more compensation when an injury severely changes their quality of life.
For example, an award-winning athlete in the prime of their career suffers a catastrophic injury that leaves them paralyzed. The decrease in their quality of life will be substantial.
It can be challenging to determine the quality of life before an accident. Therefore, insurance companies, lawyers, jurors, and judges use a variety of factors to determine how an injury impacts a person’s quality of life.
Factors that can impact the decision include:
- The person’s overall health and age
- Work experience and education
- The person’s appearance before the accident compared to after the accident
- The type and severity of injuries
- Activities the person cannot perform after the injury
- The doctor’s prognosis and future treatment plan
- The anticipated impact of ongoing medical treatments or care on the person’s life
- A person’s social standing
- Attempts to improve the quality of life by mitigating the impact of the injury
- Allegations of contributory fault on the part of the injured person
Valuing a diminished quality of life claim can be challenging. There is not a statutory formula or method for calculating how much the claim is worth. However, the multiplier method is a common way to calculate the value of non-economic damages.
A multiplier between 1.5 and five is assigned based on the severity of the impact on the person’s life. In other words, the greater the impact, the higher the number. The value of non-economic damages equals the multiplier times the amount of economic damages.
A Miami personal injury attorney understands how to present a compelling argument for maximum compensation. A lawyer works with you to document the changes in your life because of your injury.
Documentation can be a critical factor in proving a diminished quality of life claim.
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