Personal Injury Cases: What types of damages are there?
Personal injury refers to injury to a person’s body, mind, or emotions rather than injury to property such as a home or car. There are two basic types of damages that are awarded in personal injury claims: compensatory and punitive.
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory” in nature, meaning that the damages sought are based on compensating an injured plaintiff for what was lost because of the accident or injury. Although there are many different types of compensatory damages, they are generally broken down into three types: general damages, special damages, and wrongful death.
General Compensatory Damages
General Compensatory Damages compensate an injured person for “general” or non-monetary damages suffered due to an injury. Common examples include:
1. Pain and suffering
3. Loss of enjoyment of life
4. Physical and/or mental impairment
5. Mental Anguish and emotional distress
6. Loss of consortium – also known as “loss of companionship”
7. Lost opportunity – claim for lost financial or business opportunities due to the injuries sustained.
Special Compensatory Damages
Special Compensatory Damages compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the injuries sustained. Common examples include:
1. Loss of income
2. Loss of earning capacity
3. Long-term medical expenses
4. Short-term medical expenses
5. Replacement or repair of damaged property
6. Transportation costs – including costs to get to and from doctor’s offices
7. Cost of home care, or domestic services for extended or long-term injury
The presumption behind a wrongful death suit is that not only did a person lose their life due to someone else’s intentional or negligent act but also that the survivors are emotionally and/or financially impacted by that death. Common examples include:
1. Loss of companionship and consortium
2. Pre-death medical care
3. Loss of financial contribution
4. Loss of support and services once provided by the deceased
5. Emotional distress to loved ones and family
6. Funeral and death expenses
Punitive Damages, also known as “exemplary damages,” are monetary damages used to punish a defendant for egregious conduct to deter them from repeating similar conduct in the future and to act as a warning to others in the same and different industries. Punitive damages, when awarded, can amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions. Some case examples might include:
1. Driving a vehicle at excessive speeds and causing a ten vehicle pileup on the interstate, with subsequent damage to life and property.
2. Gas station owner allowing a fuel pump to leak, causing an explosion and loss of life.
3. Trucking firm allowing drivers who have worked for their company for many years and who are known alcoholic and drug users to drive their 18-wheel trucks, causing wrongful death and permanent personal injuries.
Because personal injury law is so complex, it can be difficult for layperson to understand. To successfully navigate personal injury cases, it requires vast knowledge of both insurance and tort laws. That is why it is so important to seek legal advice if you are injured in an accident. At M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers, we know how important it is to get you every penny you deserve for your injuries. For a free consultation, please contact us.