Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident in Phoenix, a slip-and-fall accident, or in any other scenario where the defendant’s negligent or wrongful acts have contributed to your injuries, plaintiffs are entitled to claim (as a separate element) damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” (LEL), otherwise known as “hedonic damages.” These damages account for a unique set of losses arising from an injury — specifically, the plaintiff must assign a monetary value to their recreational activities, and thus calculate the losses due to the injuries at-issue.
LEL damages have not always been accepted, and in some jurisdictions, there remain questions as to their viability as a separate element of damages. In fact, Arizona courts have only recently deemed LEL damages independent of pain and suffering damages. This case law development has led to a spike in litigation involving significant LEL damage claims.
Confused by all this complicated legal terminology? Let’s break down some of the basics and take a brief look at how LEL damages actually work, and how they might be applicable to your case.
Basics of LEL Damages
LEL damages (i.e., hedonic damages) are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for various losses related to their recreational activities, social life, and relationships. They are a form of non-economic damages, and as such, are inherently subjective, which is to say that they are based on your personal, emotionally-tinted experience of loss, as opposed to some objective indication of loss.
Suppose that you are severely injured in a car accident, which results in an extensive, full-body paralysis. You have become quadriplegic as a consequence of the defendant’s negligent acts. Under Arizona law, you would not only be entitled to damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, wage loss, and loss of future earning capacity, but you would also be entitled to recover damages for the “lost enjoyment of life” that extends naturally from your paralyzing condition.
After becoming quadriplegic, for example, perhaps your once-happy marriage falters and it devolves enough that a divorce is necessary. Further, you may have been an active, sporty person prior to the accident. Your quadriplegia may prevent you from any serious physical recreation, such as sport.
The Difficulty of Calculating LEL Damages
In the LEL damages context, the claim itself is not necessarily at issue — it is the amount of claimed damages that are typically up for dispute. Remember, LEL damages are inherently subjective. Though expert testimony regarding the extent of your injuries (and whether you are capable of engaging in the recreational or social activities at-issue) is certainly valuable, it is up to your attorney to put forth a convincing argument for the claimed damages.
Despite the subjective nature of LEL damages, they must still be reasonably related to the losses. For example, suppose that your injury renders you unable to play basketball. If you played only occasionally, however, then the damages cannot be unreasonably high (i.e., $50,000+). On the other hand, if you were a former collegiate basketball athlete and if you regularly exercised and socialized by playing basketball, perhaps on a weekly basis, then significant damages are justifiable.
LEL damages must also take into account various factors that include the length of the supposed loss (temporary or permanent), the age of the injured plaintiff, the importance of the activity to the plaintiff, and more.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Phoenix Injury Lawyer for Further Guidance
If you’ve suffered injuries due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person or entity, then Arizona law may give you the right to sue and recover a range of damages, including those for “loss of enjoyment of life.” As a general rule, LEL damages tend to be somewhat more difficult to prove, and defendants are very likely to dispute the amount of damages claimed. You’ll therefore benefit greatly from working with a qualified attorney who has extensive experience handling personal injury litigation that involves claims for LEL damages.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have served thousands of injured plaintiffs over the years, assisting them throughout the litigation process. We believe that effective legal representation is personalized to the needs of each client — to that end, we keep our clients fully apprised of the developments in their case, and are committed to prioritizing their goals. We are extremely confident in our ability to effectively represent the needs of our clients, and as such, we offer discounted contingency fees.
Call (602) 535-1900 to speak with an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon. Your initial consultation is free, and all communication is confidential. We look forward to advising you on how best to move forward with your injury claims.