Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Damages are generally defined as the amount of money that is awarded to compensate someone who has been harmed by another’s wrongdoing or negligence. Whether you are negotiating your car accident case with an insurance company or fighting it out in court, it all comes down to damages. How much are you owed (or do you have to pay) as a result of the accident?

There are two broad categories of damages available: Economic and Non-Economic. Damages for pain and suffering fall into the non-economic category and are often the most controversial part of any auto accident recovery, partly because they are not easily defined or quantified, and partly because they can make up a very substantial part of any plaintiff’s overall damage claim. Following is a break-down of the types of harm covered under economic and non-economic damages:

In auto accident cases, economic damages may include:

Medical expenses – past and future
Loss of income or earnings
Other property loss

Non-economic damages may include:

Pain and suffering
Disability
Disfigurement
Loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship and services)
Loss of society

Illinois operates under a “tort liability system” that governs how pain and suffering claims are to be litigated. In short, the tort liability system allows the jury to decide, exclusively, the amount of damages to which the plaintiff is entitled. There are no restrictions on who can or cannot sue for personal injury damages. The jury looks at the amount of money the plaintiff is requesting for each item of harm and decides if that amount is reasonable. To see how juries go about this task, see How Do Insurance Companies and Juries Assign Values to Pain and Suffering?

Resources:

Document Your Pain and Suffering Claim (Checklist) : A checklist that helps you document your economic and non-economic damages. An essential tool to help you prove and record your pain and suffering claim.

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation – Division of Insurance: The Illinois DFPR Insurance Division website offers helpful information about auto insurance, consumer information, and a link for filing complaints.

Illinois Insurance Association: A trade organization offering education, support, networking and training to members. The website provides legislative news, links and contacts.

Free Advice Auto Insurance Center:. Articles, FAQs, free quotes and research links