One type of recoverable damages in a personal injury case in New Mexico is “loss of enjoyment of life.” This type of financial compensation may be available to a victim who has suffered a serious, long-term or permanent injury or disability in a preventable accident. Understanding the value of your noneconomic damages, including diminished enjoyment of life, can help you negotiate a fair settlement for your claim.
What Is Loss of Enjoyment of Life in Legal Terms?
In personal injury law, the concept of loss of enjoyment of life refers to the long-term impact that an injury has on the victim’s quality of life and ability to enjoy daily life, compared to the victim’s life before the injury. It can refer to the physical, mental and emotional toll that an injury takes on a victim. In general, the more severe an injury, the greater its impact on the victim’s enjoyment of life.
Loss of enjoyment of life arises during settlement demands and case value calculations. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff or filing party can seek financial compensation for two types of compensatory damages: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are the most common. They refer to the financial toll that the accident and injury have taken on the victim, such as medical bills and property damage.
Noneconomic damages refer to the intangible losses suffered by the victim, otherwise known as pain and suffering. This category of damages includes loss of enjoyment or quality of life. If the plaintiff is unable to participate in or enjoy certain things and activities that he or she used to prior to the accident, this constitutes a loss of enjoyment of life.
How Are These Damages Calculated?
The value of a plaintiff’s loss of enjoyment of life is subjective; it depends on the quality of life the victim enjoyed prior to the accident and how it compares to the victim’s life post-injury. Calculating this category of damages requires an in-depth look into the victim’s particular circumstances. This may include the extent of disability (if any), amount of pain and suffering, inconvenience connected to medical treatments, the age of the injured person, the nature of the activity that has been lost, and the future consequences of the injury.
Analyzing diminished quality or enjoyment of life looks at the victim’s ability to participate in favorite hobbies or recreational activities, play with children, bond with family, socialize with friends, travel, and work before and after the accident. The plaintiff may need to hire experts, accountants and economists to calculate an accurate value for loss of enjoyment of life damages.
Calculating an intangible loss such as enjoyment of life requires placing a monetary value on human life. For example, an expert may determine how much companies spend on safety devices that reduce the risk of death, then multiply this by the percentage of lost enjoyment of life that a victim has experienced due to his or her injury. A reasonable amount calculated for loss of enjoyment of life will be combined with pain and suffering damages rather than standing alone.
What Injuries Typically Lead to Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
Loss of enjoyment of life generally does not apply to minor or mild injury cases. Instead, these damages are reserved for victims with moderate to severe injuries that will have a long-term impact on the victim’s life.
Injuries that may lead to loss of enjoyment of life damages include:
- Brain injuries and brain damage
- Catastrophic injuries
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Multiple bone fractures
- Nerve damage
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries
Low-level injuries may not be enough to warrant a claim for diminished enjoyment or quality of life in a personal injury lawsuit. However, you should always discuss the value of your claim with an Albuquerque personal injury attorney before accepting a settlement from an insurance company.