loss of enjoyment

Claiming Loss of Enjoyment of Life: What It Is and How to Calculate It

When you face mounting medical expenses, extensive repair bills, and an uncertain period off work, you might forget the full extent of damages you’re entitled to in a personal injury claim. One often overlooked type is loss of enjoyment of life. But what is it, how can you calculate it, and how do you recover loss of enjoyment of life as part of your compensation payout?

Our Greenville, South Carolina, personal injury lawyers explain everything you need to know.

What Is Loss of Enjoyment of Life?

Loss of enjoyment of life — frequently shortened to loss of enjoyment — is a type of non-economic damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit to compensate accident victims for their inability to participate in activities they previously enjoyed. Like other non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, loss of enjoyment is harder to quantify because it doesn’t have a monetary equivalent.

You can easily argue the cost of surgery and physical therapy for a broken leg when you have a physical bill or estimate. But how do you put a price on the impact of a grandparent not being able to hold their young grandchildren or the emotional toll of being prevented from gardening — an act of self-care vital for their mental health?

What Activities Does Loss of Enjoyment Cover?

Loss of enjoyment covers a long list of activities. Any activity that used to bring you joy but now negatively impacts your quality of life because you cannot do it is fair game. However, you must show that a loss of function or pain from your accident prevents you from enjoying an activity to claim these damages.

Example activities include not being able to:

  • Cook food at home unassisted, which you previously enjoyed because it gave you independence.
  • Work in an industry you love that previously paid you well, allowing you to treat yourself and your loved ones.
  • Travel the world.
  • Attend a class or social club, such as an acting class or book club because you have slurred speech after a brain injury.
  • Play sports or participate in physical activities like running, swimming, golf, and tennis.
  • Enjoy painting, gardening, photography, woodworking, playing a musical instrument, and other recreational activities.
  • Attend social events, parties, and family gatherings.
  • Go to the gym, exercise, or otherwise maintain physical fitness.
  • Go camping, fishing, boating, or hiking.
  • Celebrate milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations.
  • Volunteer in the community.
  • Invest in education by attending workshops and courses.

We often take things we enjoy for granted, not realizing just how profoundly they impact our happiness and well-being until we can no longer do them without excruciating pain — or perhaps at all.

Which Injuries Yield the Biggest Loss of Enjoyment of Life Payouts?

Any injury can result in loss of enjoyment, but incapacitating injuries tend to have a sizeable impact. As a result, they commonly also result in larger settlements.

Catastrophic injuries that can cause loss of enjoyment of life include:

Head Trauma

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) range from mild to severe, but any head injury is serious. Caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head, these injuries can impact concentration, develop into conditions like dysarthria and aphasia, and cause permanent brain damage.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A mild spinal cord injury can cause chronic pain and limited mobility, preventing an accident victim from enjoying many activities. A severe injury can cause paralysis, leaving those affected with a diminished quality of life.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries can limit function and make it hard for individuals to complete specific tasks or activities. If the injured party is an athlete, such an injury can affect their livelihood.

Facial Injuries, Burns, and Lacerations

These injuries cause loss of enjoyment by leaving individuals with scars, which can affect self-esteem, impact relationships, and make it painful or impossible to do some tasks.

Mild and moderate injuries can cause loss of enjoyment too. Sprains and strains can cause chronic, near-constant pain, disrupting sleep and limiting what an individual can do. Scenarios like this might not impact only hobbies and social engagements — they may affect a person’s overall life.

How to Calculate Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Loss of enjoyment is subjective, so assigning a monetary figure to it can be challenging. 

Several factors can impact how much your loss of enjoyment claim might be worth, including:

  • How severe your injury is
  • Your injury’s physical impact
  • Your injury’s emotional impact
  • How your injury impacts your relationships and hobbies.

Let’s say two individuals sustain head injuries in near-identical car accidents in Greenville. The first sustains a concussion and recovers loss of enjoyment of life damages because they cannot play sports for a year. The second suffers a more severe TBI and requires surgery, after which they must stay in the hospital for monitoring and undergo months of rehabilitation and speech and language therapy. They make rapid progress during the first months of treatment but still struggle to communicate with others, causing them to become withdrawn.

One of these injuries more substantially impacted an accident victim’s enjoyment of life, and the compensation award would reflect that. In the second case, a jury might award a life-changing payout for loss of enjoyment.

Insurance companies typically use one of two methods to calculate non-economic damages — including loss of enjoyment. While a jury may decide to award significantly more or less, these calculations can be helpful and provide a benchmark for how much a lawsuit is worth.

The multiplier method involves taking an individual’s total economic damages (such as their past and future lost wages and medical expenses) and applying a multiplier — a figure between one and five. Catastrophic injuries that cause lifelong disability or significantly diminish a person’s quality of life will warrant a higher multiplier. For example, if an accident victim’s economic damages are $100,000 and an insurance company applies a multiplier of four, the plaintiff will be offered $500,000 in total — $100,000 for their tangible losses and $400,000 for their non-economic damages. This formula calculates the loss of enjoyment damages with other non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

The second method — per diem or “for every day” — involves assigning a monetary value for the injured party’s losses for one day, then multiplying it by the number of days the injured person will experience their loss of enjoyment. 

Your attorney may seek expert testimony from economists to calculate how much your loss of enjoyment is worth.

Recovering Damages for Loss of Enjoyment of Life

To successfully claim loss of enjoyment of life in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove the other party is liable for your accident and injuries due to their negligence.

Evidence that can prove negligence includes:

  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • Photographs and videos
  • Accident reconstructions.

You must also prove your injuries resulted in your loss of enjoyment. Medical records can demonstrate the severity of your injuries, your physical and emotional limitations, and the treatment you’ve had and will need going forward.

A personal injury diary or journal can also be powerful, documenting how you feel on a given day and the activities you couldn’t do or enjoy because of your injuries. Testimonials from friends and family who have witnessed your injury’s impact on your life can support this evidence. 

If you’ve suffered loss of enjoyment of life after an injury that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys in Greenville, South Carolina, can gather evidence and build a persuasive case so you can get the damages you deserve.