When you file a personal injury claim, you’ll need to calculate the damages that you are seeking, and you’ll want to fully understand the different types of damages that you can claim: special, general, and punitive. Most personal injury claims will involve special and general damages, and certain circumstances allow for punitive damages in personal injury claims as well.
What are Special Damages?
Special damages, or economic damages, include all financial expenses and losses. They are generally easy to prove with receipts, estimates, invoices, cancelled checks, etc. Damages that fall into this category include loss of income, medical costs, property damage, and other out of pocket expenses.
If your injuries keep you from working, then you may be able to seek compensation for the hours and wages that you have lost. You can show the value of these damages with check stubs or statements from your employer about your typical hourly, weekly, or monthly income.
Whatever medical expenses are associated with your injury can also be compensated. This includes emergency medical services, follow up doctor’s appointments, hospital fees, lab fees, surgical expenses, prescription costs and co-pays, and the costs associated with rehabilitation and physical therapy. You should be able to prove these expenses with invoices, receipts, and billing statements.
If your property was damaged and in need of repair or replacement, then you can demonstrate this with estimates, receipts, and other documentation to receive compensation. If you paid any other relevant expenses out of pocket, such as rental car payments, then you may be able to receive compensation for these costs as well.
What are General Damages?
General damages, or non-economic damages, are not as easy to calculate or value because they are awarded for such consequences of injurious events as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and lower quality of life.
Injuries come with physical pain and suffering and mental anguish. You may find that your injuries cause psychological damage, such as inability to sleep, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The suffering that goes along with loss of consortium is also difficult to calculate with a numerical value, as the loss of companionship and affection can cause immense grief. When your quality of life is lessened, you likewise experience tremendous stress and unhappiness. All of these general damages can be compensated, though the exact value will depend on your case.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are those that apply to cases of gross negligence, egregious behavior, and/or willful recklessness. These damages are intended as punishment for the egregious behavior and a deterrent from repeating the behavior.