“Hedonic Damages,” CLE-TV

“Hedonic Damages: Litigating the loss of enjoyment of life.”

American Law Institute-American Bar Association Round table discussion: Monetary/financial losses vs. Losses in the enjoyment of life. Stan details what losses are included in hedonic damages.


Interviewer: I think the best place to begin is asking, “just what is meant by Hedonic Damages?” Stan, what types of losses are included under the heading of Hedonic Damages?

Stan Smith: I think the term was first used to look at the loss of enjoyment of life to sustain by a decedent. So, his future enjoyment of life on to the time of his death of a normal life expectancy. So, it had a synonymity, or was synonymous, with loss of enjoyment of life. Eventually, it was later applied to loss of enjoyment of life in injury cases where you have the partial loss of the full enjoyment, but not total. And in later years—in recent years—it has also included loss of society and companionship to survivors, which is another way of saying loss of enjoyment of life to those who are left behind.

Interviewer: Does it make any difference as to the type of injury? Are different sorts of claims going to be included whether it’s an injury or death or death of a third person?

Smith: I think it can be used in all three instances. The purpose of the term is to distinguish between monetary losses, financial losses, and losses associated with the enjoyment or utility, or as economists would say, the value of life.

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