This page from the Duckler Interview is part of Section Three:|
the Law section of barkingdogs.net
On Receiving Compensation for Emotional Distress, and the Distinction Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Many states, like Oregon, recognize two types of damage: economic damage and non-economic damage. Economic damage is what we've just talked about. It's anything that is an out of pocket expense that you had to pay, from the gas you had to buy to go see the doctor to the doctor's bill itself. That includes anything for which you can show a receipt, an invoice or a stub.
Let's say that your job requires that you be very attentive at work. But the barking has so damaged your physical and mental health that you can no longer function at your place of employment. And you lose the job, or you have to take sick time and they dock your pay, or you get demoted, or whatever. So you want to be able to show a pay stub and say, "Before the barking I got paid this. But after being exposed to the barking, and because of the barking, I'm now getting paid this lesser amount." That's an economic expense.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are non-verifiable. So essentially the term non-economic damages is a synonym for emotional distress.
When you sue someone for certain types of torts, you can only get non-economic damages. But when you sue someone for nuisance, most states, including Oregon, entitle the plaintiff to get both economic and non-economic damages.
Now, there are some sorts of torts in which you do not have to show any economic damages at all. Like, for example, a defamation claim in which someone has accused you of sexual misconduct. With that kind of thing, it doesn't matter if it never costs you a dime, because the accusation itself is just presumed to be damaging. So you can get plain old emotional distress damages just simply because of the fact that the statement was made.
However, with a nuisance case, like a barking dog, it normally requires that you show some economic damage. After you show that, even if it's just a dollar, then you can tie your non-economic damages to it, just by showing that you were also distressed.
For the most part, the jury is sensitive to the fact that the barking isn't really costing you money. The barking is really costing you your mental health, and your physical health too, for that matter.
Maybe it doesn't translate into the kind of thing where you had to pay something to someone. But it does translate into dollars in that, who the heck would not be distressed by the fact that they can't sleep. Or that you can't enjoy your dinner. Or that you can't go outside.
Therefore, you're entitled to both types of damages, but you have to prove one to get the other. That's all.
Written by Craig
Spanish translation - Traducción al español
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