If you’ve already read our post Can I make an injury claim? and you think you may have a case, the next thing you’re probably wondering is what kind of compensation you might be entitled to.
The compensation you can get for the damage an injury caused is referred to in legalese as “damages.” There are many different kinds of damages, but they generally fall into one of three categories.
Here’s a quick guide of the types of compensation you may be able seek:
Special Compensatory Damages
Despite their name, special damages are the most straight-forward of the three main types. They are essentially compensation for lost money, which makes them the easiest to calculate and prove.
These can be the immediate costs caused by the injury, like paying for medical treatment or replacing damaged property, but can also be long-term costs, like future wages you won’t be able to earn or money lost because you had to cancel a non-refundable trip.
The extent of the special damages you seek can be used to bolster your case for general damages (see below), and the two types of compensation are usually sought together.
General Compensatory Damages
General damages are compensation for the intangible (but no less devastating) injuries. A good way to think of general damages is as compensation for the emotional fallout. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of reputation, and loss of consortium fall into this category.
Loss of consortium damages are compensation for the loss of a close relationship, or more technically, the loss of the benefits that relationship provided. For example, if a parent is injured due to someone else’s negligence and they are no longer able to care for their child, the child may be entitled to a type of loss of consortium damage called loss of guidance.
While every personal injury case could most likely seek some degree of general damages, every general damages claim is unique because it’s difficult to quantify emotional harm into a dollar amount.
Punitive Compensatory Damages
While the overall goal of special and general damages is to try to restore you to the state you were in before the injury (at least monetarily), punitive damages are different. Sometimes a personal injury is so severe that compensation for the emotional and economic harm just isn’t enough.
In those cases, punitive damages are applied not to compensate for your losses, but as punishment for the person you are seeking them from. They’re not just seen as a deterrent to keep that person from repeating the same actions, but also to set a precedent and deter others from making the same mistakes.
Punitive damages are not something you would seek as a plaintiff, but something that the court or jury would apply after hearing the case and taking into account the severity of the special and general damages. This is the rarest of the three types of damages, especially since most personal injury cases are settled out of court.
To find out if you have a case and what kind of damages you might be entitled to, the best course of action is always to speak with a legal professional specializing in injury law. Call us at 1-888-288-HURT and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.