Special vs General Damages

If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, there are various types of compensation that may be relevant to your personal injury case. Except in rare instances where the court awards punitive damages, there are two broad types of damages: special and general. Both fall under the broad category of compensatory damages, which are intended to help restore the victim to the position they were in before the accident took place. They cover different types of damages and of the two, special damages are easier to calculate.

What are Special Damages?

Special damages are also known as economic damages. They include any direct financial results of the accident. Some have a set dollar amount, like hospital bills. Others may require more calculation, such as lost wages, which can become more complex in the case of permanent disability.

Even in more complicated cases, special damages are more straightforward than general damages since they do correlate to direct expenses or loss of earning potential.

Examples of Economic Damages

Medical Expenses

This category can include bills for initial treatment as well as any continuing physical therapy or follow-up visits. It’s important to wait to calculate these expenses until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This will allow you to determine what ongoing expenses you may have.

Lost Wages/Income

If you had to take time off work due to an injury, this falls under the category of special damages. To calculate this, you would determine how many hours of work you missed to due to your injury and recovery and would multiply this by your hourly rate.

If you are self-employed, you can claim lost income instead of lost wages. This can be more difficult to calculate, but you can use a 1099 form or other documentation to demonstrate how much you would typically have made in the timeframe you were unable to work.

Lost Earning Potential

In the case of permanent disability, you may be unable to do the same work you did previously or unable to work at all. This lost earning potential would be a factor in your case.

What are General Damages?

General damages, also known as non-economic damages, represent negative effects of the accident that are harder to assign a monetary value to. Instead of having a clear financial cost, they are more general, hence the name.

Your attorney may use a variety of methods to assign a dollar amount to general damages in your case.

Examples of Non-Economic Damages

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages compensate you for any physical pain and emotional distress you experienced due to the accident.

Loss of Consortium

Damages for loss of consortium are recovered by the spouse or a close family member of the accident victim. This type of compensation covers any decrease in the level of companionship the injured person is able to provide.

Were You Injured in an Accident?

If you were the victim of an accident, our personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
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