A South Florida woman has filed a car accident lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court, alleging negligence resulting in serious injury, pain, disability, disfigurement and something known as “loss of life enjoyment.”
Such damages are typical to seek in Florida crash injury claims, but this last one is what we want to focus on here. While serious injury, disability and medical costs can be established with documentation such as medical records, bills, bank statements, pay stubs and tax returns (among other types of evidence), loss of life enjoyment is a little trickier because it is highly subjective. It’s also sometimes referred to as “hedonic damages,” “loss of life’s pleasures” or “lost value of life.” It is a type of non-economic damages, which means there is no clear-cut value for the loss, as opposed to economic damages, which are the result of monetary losses suffered as a result of an injury or wrongful death.
In this case, as reported by the Florida Record, the motorist alleges defendant struck her vehicle in December 2016, causing her to sustain severe injuries that required hospitalization and ongoing nursing care. It also had the effect of exacerbating an existing medical condition. Details of the injuries and crash circumstances weren’t given in the initial complaint, except that it occurred at an intersection of the southbound I-95 ramp in Fort Lauderdale and plaintiff alleges defendant failed to maintain control of her vehicle or exercise proper lookout for other vehicles.
Given that sometimes psychologists are called as expert witnesses in civil injury litigation to establish loss of life enjoyment, a case law analysis by the Psychology Department at the University of Nebraska is insightful. The study noted that while it can be difficult to quantify non-economic damages in general, judges often make assumptions about quantification, with total damages for harm generally being higher when those for pain and suffering (physical) are treated as a separate issue from loss of life enjoyment (mental/ emotional). Courts across the country have varied on whether to allow this, with judges and justices finding against it reasoning that it results in duplicative damages. Florida courts do allow it to be sought separately.
The study noted the primary factor considered for loss of life enjoyment is the effect of the injury on a person’s lifestyle (which has correlated with jurors’ perceptions of injury severity and thus damage awards). As Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers, we establish this by showing how active, happy, fulfilled one’s life was before the crash, how much life they had left to live and how the crash has negatively impacted that. Although it may seem somewhat unfair, for this particular type of damages, those who will tend to receive higher loss of life enjoyment awards are:
- Have young families/ loving spouses/ other close and meaningful relationships;
- Are active and involved in their communities and recreation;
- Are in the prime of a successful career or on the verge of a promising one.
These aren’t the only factors, but they often come into play. This particular type of damages is one of the primary reasons one will want to be cautious about what they post in social media and other public forums after a crash. This is because while we all know our social media presence is a projection of our “best selves,” it can be construed by defendants in a courtroom as one not having suffered as severely mentally and emotionally as alleged.
If you have been in a serious crash in Fort Lauderdale, it’s important to discuss these issues with an attorney as soon as possible, before agreeing to a settlement with an auto insurance adjuster.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Lawsuit claims I-95 car accident left woman disabled and disfigured, July 29, 2018, By Janie Mallari-Torres, The Florida Record
More Blog Entries:
Court: Crash Case Defendant/ Employer Not Entitled to Summary Judgment, June 3, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog