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What are personal injury damages?

In your personal injury claim, you will hear the word ‘damages’ often. Damages mean the money awarded by the court. Let’s explore the different types you may encounter in your case.

Special Damages vs. General Damages

Examples of special damages:

  • Lost Wages (Past and present, if able to be calculated): Lost wages can account for past wages lost due to medical treatment and a possible future decrease in wage due to the injuries sustained in your accident. An attorney may calculate lost opportunity based on wages and promotions you would have received if it weren’t for the accident.
  • Medical Expenses: If you have been in an accident, you know how medical bills can accumulate. These medical damages will take into account everything from your initial E.R. visit to physical therapy down the road.
  • Property Damage: Your car will most likely endure some sort of damage after an accident. If the accident was not your fault, the responsible party’s insurance should pay for the repair or replacement of the vehicle. The amount the responsible party is liable for is the amount of damage they caused to the vehicle.
  • Out of Pocket Expenses(car rental, mileage, etc.)

General Damages are the opposite of special damages because these are considered non-economic damages, or not easily quantified. Pain and suffering is a common term used to describe these types of damages as it considers the severity of pain and extent of the impact on your life. This part of your claim can be tricky because there aren’t clear definitions for pain and suffering, and an attorney must find a way to associate a dollar amount with these subjective factors. Usually, with pain and suffering, attorneys will use their experience in past cases, to make calculations on what has been awarded to similar situations.

Here are a few factors that categorize under non-monetary harm damages:

  • Mental and Emotional Distress: After an accident, it is common for victims to experience PTSD or other forms of anxiety due to the traumatic event. Usually, emotional distress is accompanied by physical injuries or trauma.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Sometimes after an accident, it is difficult to return to your usual hobbies and activities due to pain or disability. In these circumstances, an attorney will argue that due to the accident, your life has been significantly altered or changed to the point you cannot enjoy your usual activities and hobbies.
  • Inconvenience: The interruption of attending scheduled events such as work, school or events, due to doctor visits as well as pain, can also be a possible factor in your claim.
  • Disfigurement & Impairment: Scarring, loss of body parts or interference with bodily function. Depending on the extent of your injuries, a lawyer might argue that due to your impairment your quality of life has been negatively affected.

Compensatory Damages vs. Punitive Damages

Compensatory Damages, or actual damages, are intended to get you back to where you were financially before your accident. These damages include the special damages that we mentioned earlier, as they are quantitative. The goal in the recovery of these damages is to pay for the costs that the accident has caused.

Punitive Damages sole purpose is to punish the responsible party. This does not necessarily mean it is punishment for causing the accident as this is usually for cases where you were intentionally injured or were injured due to illegal behavior by the responsible person or entity.

Make sure to ask your lawyer if you have any questions regarding damages and be clear when you explain each type of damage you experienced from your accident.

Special Damages also referred to as monetary damages or economic damages, are meant to cover losses that have specific monetary values. These types of damages can be calculated and converted into dollars.

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