What Are Economic Damages?

Ryan Zavodnick, Philadelphia Injury Lawyer

After suffering an injury in an accident that’s someone else’s fault, an injury victim may be entitled to recover compensation called legal damages.

Damages are the total amount of money paid to a person who was injured by the intentional or negligent acts of another person. 

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Lawyer

There are several types of damages. One important category of damages is called compensatory damages. 

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate an injured person for a loss. In other words, to pay them back for their injuries

Compensatory damages fall into two baskets: 

Non-economic damages try to pay a person back for parts of their lives that will never be the same. Economic damages, on the other hand, cover a more tangible type of loss. 

When is a Person Entitled to Economic Damages?

A person may be entitled to economic damages when another person’s carelessness or negligence caused them harm. 

To prove negligence, an injury victim must show: 

  • That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the injured party
  • That the at-fault party breached the duty of care owed
  • That the injured party sustained actual injuries
  • That the at-fault party’s act, or failure to act, caused the injured party’s injury

Each of these “elements” must be proven at a trial before the issue of damages is addressed. 

Common Types of Economic Damages in Pennsylvania

A wide variety of out-of-pocket expenses are potentially recoverable as economic damages. 

Initial Medical Expenses

Initial medical expenses after an accident can be significant. 

Due to an injury, an accident victim may incur costs for:

  • Bloodwork
  • MRIs
  • X-rays
  • Surgeries
  • Hospital admission
  • and more

Fortunately, these costs can be recovered when an injury victim pays them out-of-pocket. If an insurance company (like your health insurance company) pays for these expenses, they may be able to recover their payments from any potential settlement or judgment in favor of the injury victim. This process is called subrogation


Common Types of Economic Damages in Pennsylvania

Following some injuries, lengthy physical rehabilitation or occupational therapy may be in order. In more dangerous automobile accidents, like those involving motorcycles, rehabilitation may be essential to a full recovery. 

Injury victims can recover any costs associated with rehabilitation, such as modalities or tools used at home to rehabilitate muscles. An injury victim who misses work for rehabilitation appointments may also be able to recover lost wages for the time spent at the medical appointment. 

Property Damage

Reimbursement for the cost of property damage, whether to a vehicle or personal property, may be included in economic damages.

 It is easier to prove the value of these damages with proper documentation, including:

  • Invoices 
  • Estimates
  • Quotes
  • Receipts

Even if you use a small business to repair your car or laptop after an accident, you should ask for documentation of the cost and payment of services. Handwritten receipts and invoices are better than nothing, but formal invoices, estimates, quotes, or statements are best. 

Lost Income 

An injured person may lose income throughout the course of their injury and rehabilitation. 

Some situations for which an injured party may be entitled to compensation for lost wages include:

  • Late arrival to work due to the accident or immediate medical evaluation
  • Missed work for ongoing medical appointments and treatment
  • Out of work for surgical procedures or other outpatient procedures
  • Time away from work to attend physical therapy or rehabilitation appointments

In most cases, an injured person may be able to recover lost wages any time they miss work as a direct result of the accident and injury.

Loss of Earning Capacity 

Loss of earning capacity applies when an injury will prevent the injured person from advancing in their career or trade. A promising mechanic in his mid-40s or bright young student would have a stronger claim for loss of earning capacity than a person nearing retirement age.  

What Does This Mean for My Case?

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At Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers, we offer consultations to explore the specific value of your case. Here’s how economic damages might look in a common scenario of a car accident.

For example, assume Driver A is headed to a doctor’s appointment on their lunch break.

Driver A is hit by Driver B at one of the most dangerous intersections in Philadelphia. Driver A believes that Driver B is at fault and intends to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

Driver A might seek to recover economic damages for the following types of expenses:

These fall into the category of economic damages because they impact Driver A financially. For any expenses Driver A must pay in cash, out-of-pocket, they can recover from Driver B if Driver B is found to be at fault. Likewise, lost wages damages represent actual dollars that Driver A would have earned, if not for the injury caused to them by Driver B. 

Contact Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Our seasoned personal injury lawyer at Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers conducts a thorough investigation to determine if you have a claim for which damages can be recovered. Call our office (215) 875-7030 now for your consultation with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney.