Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Loss of Enjoyment of Life Definition:

Damages claimed based on alleged detrimental alterations of a person's life or lifestyle or a person's inability to participate in the activities or pleasures of life that were formerly enjoyed.

Related Terms: Hedonic Damages

Also known as hedonic damages.

In Clarkston, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana adopted these words:

"Loss of enjoyment of life, sometimes known as hedonic damages, refers to the detrimental alterations of a person's life or lifestyle or a person's inability to participate in the activities or pleasures of life that were formerly enjoyed.

"Loss of enjoyment of life falls within the definition of general damages because it involves the quality of a person's life, which is inherently speculative and cannot be measured definitively in terms of money. The loss of life or life-style included in the definition of general damages is substantially similar to the detrimental alteration of a person's life or lifestyle as included in the definition of loss of enjoyment of life. Loss of enjoyment of life is a component of general damages and therefore loss of enjoyment of life is not separate and distinct from general damages....

"A separate award for loss of enjoyment of life would not offend the existing concept of general damages and would reflect the accepted method of listing elements of general damages separately.

"Moreover, loss of enjoyment of life is conceptually distinct from other components of general damages, including pain and suffering. Pain and suffering, both physical and mental, refers to the pain, discomfort, inconvenience, anguish, and emotional trauma that accompanies an injury. Loss of enjoyment of life, in comparison, refers to detrimental alterations of the person's life or lifestyle or the person's inability to participate in the activities or pleasures of life that were formerly enjoyed prior to the injury."

Similarly, in Boan:

"An award for pain and suffering compensates the injured person for the physical discomfort and the emotional response to the sensation of pain caused by the injury itself.

"On the other hand, damages for loss of enjoyment of life compensate for the limitations, resulting from the defendant's negligence, on the injured person's ability to participate in and derive pleasure from the normal activities of daily life, or for the individual's inability to pursue his talents, recreational interests, hobbies, or avocations. For example, an award for the diminishment of pleasure resulting from the loss of use of one of the senses, or for a paraplegic's loss of the ability to participate in certain physical activities, falls under the rubric of hedonic damages. In our view, loss of enjoyment of life damages compensate the individual not only for the subjective knowledge that one can no longer enjoy all of life's pursuits, but also for the objective loss of the ability to engage in these activities."

REFERENCES:

  • Boan v. Blackwell, 541 S.E.2d 242 (South Carolina Supreme Court, 2001)
  • Clarkston v Louisiana Farm Bureau, 989 So. 2d 164 (Court of Appeal of Louisiana, 2008)

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