Damages in Your Personal Injury Case
In personal injury cases, “damages” is a term that refers to the amount of money awarded to the injured party (or plaintiff) who suffered harm due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional action of the defendant. Damages can be grouped as either general or special, and are also commonly referred to as non-economic and economic damages.
General damages flow naturally from the defendant’s wrongful action. There is a clear link between the defendant’s behavior and the plaintiff’s injury. In most cases, the ability of the defendant to anticipate the injury (or the severity of the harm) does not bar the plaintiff from receiving full compensation for his or her general damages. General damages amount to financial compensation that is issued by a court to compensate for injuries suffered, for which no real dollar value can be calculated.
Types of General Damages
- physical pain and suffering
- physical disfigurement
- physical impairment
- mental anguish
- loss of companionship (paid to family members in wrongful death cases), and
- lowered qualify of life.
Calculating General Damages
It may be difficult to calculate or precisely quantify the amount of money necessary to compensate the injured person for general damages. Determining general damages often involves assigning an exact dollar amount to a subjective injury. Damages such as mental anguish or embarrassment are unique to each plaintiff. Factors that may determine a damage award include the gruesomeness of an injury, the skill of the attorneys, and the sensitivities of the jury.
Special damages financially compensate the injured person for losses suffered due to the defendant’s actions. Special damages are out-of-pocket expenses that can be determined by adding together all the plaintiff’s quantifiable financial losses. However, these losses or expenses must be proven with specificity. Special damages compensate the plaintiff for quantifiable monetary losses such as medical bills and the cost to repair damaged property (direct losses) and lost earnings (consequential damages). They are distinguished from general damages, for which there is no exact dollar value to the plaintiff’s losses.
Types of Special Damages
- repair and replacement of damaged property
- lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- medical expenses (past and future), and
- loss of irreplaceable items
Calculating Special Damages
Unlike general damages, special damages are often easy to calculate because an exact dollar amount has already been spent on these items. It gets a little more complicated when you need to put a dollar figure on the cost of future medical care or future wage loss tied to the injury, but it can be done with expert witnesses and other evidence. Those records and bills are the documentation we use to determine your Special Damages. An easy way to remember this is to know that Special Damages can be specially proven with a copy of a record and a receipt.
Claiming General and Special Damages After an Injury
An injured person can seek both general and special damages. In a personal injury case involving physical injury, the plaintiff will seek to recover money for medical expenses. If the injury caused the plaintiff to miss work for a period, he or she can seek additional money for lost wages. Serious physical injuries can be accompanied by pain and suffering, which is categorized as general damages.
Consult with an attorney
Speak with an attorney, especially if anyone was injured in the accident. A qualified Florida attorney can help maximize a settlement value if you are injured as well as help you create a viable defense if you are at fault.
The personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Luis Cartaya, PA are experienced in dealing with accident claims and can help you understand your rights and get the highest amount possible for your claim. Contact us anytime to discuss your options.