Whenever someone is injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, they are legally entitled to compensation for their injuries, property damage and economic losses, depending on the facts of the case and the laws of the state in which the incident occurred. Compensatory damages reimburse costs and suffering caused by the accident. There are many types of compensatory damages, but they fall into general and special damages. They are available in almost all injury cases including vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and slip-and-fall cases depending on the laws of the state.
Special damages are meant to compensate for expenses you incurred because of the injury. There are no limits to damages awarded but you would have the burden of showing that they’re related to your injuries and you must be able to document what you paid.
Special damages often include:
- Past, present and projected future loss of earnings
- Medical bills
- Property loss
- Household expenses
- Extra costs related the accident.
General damages are meant to compensate for non-monetary damages and harm suffered because of the injury, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium or companionship.
General damages are not documented like special damages which are shown by bills, invoices and receipts. Pain and suffering damages are based on a formula that generally includes medical bills, the severity of the injury and the degree of the other party’s fault.
Damages In Wrongful Death Suits
If there is a fatal accident, the deceased’s next of kin are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit to compensate them for their losses. Possible damages in a wrongful death case may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Cost of medical care performed after the accident and before the death occurred
- Emotional distress of deceased’s next of kin
- Loss of expected financial contributions
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of companionship and consortium.
Punitive damages may be awarded in certain rare cases where extreme negligence, wanton or malicious acts or intentional conduct has been exhibited by the defendant. Punitive damages aren’t meant to compensate rather they serve to punish the defendant and discourage others from such conduct in similar situations. Cases where punitive damages are awarded often involve injuries caused by criminal acts or businesses selling defective products that could harm others. Judgments and settlements in the millions of dollars for personal injury claims may be in the headlines, but most injury cases aren’t in that ballpark. Plaintiffs receiving huge awards or judgments are often severely disabled, so that’s not a desirable situation. However, if you or a loved one is seriously injured due to the negligence of another, you do have a legal right to demand and obtain compensation.
In order to obtain damages in a personal injury or wrongful death case, it is imperative that the services of a competent, qualified and experienced accident attorney be utilized to obtain the most favorable resolution possible to your accident injury claim. The skills and expertise of an attorney have a profound impact on the outcome of any personal injury case. It is therefore important that law students and attorneys utilize legal resources such as LSAT prep courses to increase their legal knowledge and improve their expertise.