Damages in Florida personal injury actions are awarded with the intent of compensating plaintiffs monetarily for their losses. As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers know, damages that first come to mind are things like medical expenses, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. But beyond the physical pain one has endured, there’s also the emotional response to that pain, which often includes the reasonable withdrawal from meaningful activities and relationships a person once enjoyed. This is what we refer to as “loss of enjoyment of life.”
Some jurisdictions include “loss of enjoyment of life” as part of the pain and suffering damage award, while others consider it a separate category of damages all its own. Florida considers loss of enjoyment of life to be its own separate category of damages.
Let’s say that prior to a Palm Beach car accident, the plaintiff (injured person) was active in going to the gym, participating in recreational sports, volunteering with a local charity, and engaging in a satisfying physical relationship with their spouse. After the crash, they’re no longer able to enjoy any of those things, at least not in the same way as they once did. That’s loss of enjoyment of life.
The person would have been able to lead a normal lifestyle had it not been for the injury, but now they can’t. For this deprivation – in the past as well as what will be experienced in the future – plaintiffs can seek damages for loss of enjoyment of life.
As noted in Florida Civil Jury Instructions 501.2, there’s no exact standard for measuring such damage. It must, however, be “fair and just in the light of the evidence.” Non-economic damages such as loss of enjoyment of life are typically only awarded in Florida when one can prove that their injuries were serious and usually permanent.
The types of injuries that can impair your ability to enjoy life may include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Injuries resulting in chronic pain
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
Examples of Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life comes down to the ways in which a severe injury caused by another’s negligence has adversely impacted another’s quality of life. Therefore, the more active, fulfilling, and meaningful our Palm Beach injury lawyers can show a client’s life was before the incident, the more damages are likely to be awarded for loss of that lifestyle.
That said, there’s no single, go-to list of elements that are definitively categorized as loss of life enjoyment. It’s going to depend heavily on the individual and what made their lives rich, meaningful, and fulfilling before all this happened. That can mean your career, your social life, your family and friend relationships, your volunteer work, your care for your family, your recreational activities, your volunteer activities, etc.
Some examples gleaned from previous court cases:
- Impaired ability of a loving mother and wife to provide ongoing emotional support and physical companionship to her family.
- An avid swimmer no longer able to swim competitively or engage in other sports.
- A person once active in tennis, running, and bicycling who can no longer do those things.
- A young man once healthy, athletic, confident, social, and helpful has become a virtual recluse since his accident.
- A woman deprived of her once active social life and no longer able to properly care for her young children.
- A man who permanently lost his sense of smell and taste after an accident.
- A woman who loved being a homemaker left no longer able to engage in gardening, cooking, yardwork, or housework.
Note that Florida does not allow damages for loss of life enjoyment in wrongful death cases. However, as noted in the 2013 ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Degraw v. Gualtieri, certain family members may still claim mental pain and suffering as well as loss of consortium claims may still be filed.
Proving Loss of Life Enjoyment
When it comes to proving loss of life enjoyment in a Florida personal injury lawsuit, what we need to do is essentially compare what your life was before the incident to what it has since become.
It’s not the same as simply presenting a medical bill or tax return. We’re likely going to need expert witness testimony from doctors explaining the ways in which the injuries you sustained from this accident/incident have directly impacted your ability to engage in certain activities you once loved. And then we’ll need to provide evidence of the enriching life you once led through photographs, videos, social media posts, testimony of friends, family, former colleagues, etc.
While quantifying such losses is a difficult prospect, our Palm Beach injury lawyers will often present a chart that calculates the per diem or per day “cost” of this injury to your quality of life.
If you have questions about the types of damages to which you may be entitled in a South Florida personal injury lawsuit, our dedicated Palm Beach County injury lawyers can help.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
More Blog Entries:
“How Much is My South Florida Injury Case Worth?” Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Insight,May 30, 2023, Palm Beach Personal Injury Attorney Blog