Hedonic Damages Law & Legal Definition


Hedonic damages refers to damages for compensation for the loss of enjoyment or value of life. It is sometimes referred to as the lost intangible value of life. Those who advocate hedonics believe that life is inherently worth more than just the amount of money an individual can earn. Therefore, court awards for lost pay and for pain and suffering are inadequate to make the plaintiff whole.

The value of human life isn’t subject to precise measurement in economics or accounting professions, therefore it is a very subjective value. Not all jurisdictions allow hedonic damages to be awarded.

The following is an example of a state statute governing hedonic damages:

SEC. 11-1-69. Prohibition of hedonic damages in civil actions.

(1) In any civil action for personal injury there may be a recovery for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. However, there shall be no recovery for loss of enjoyment of life as a separate element of damages apart from pain and suffering damages, and there shall be no instruction given to the jury which separates loss of enjoyment of life from pain and suffering. The determination of the existence and extent of recovery for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life shall be a question for the finder of fact, subject to appellate review, and the monetary value of the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life shall not be made the subject of expert testimony.

(2) In any wrongful death action, there shall be no recovery for loss of enjoyment of life caused by death.