For personal injury cases there are two types of damages – general damages and special damages. The term “damages” refers to the settlement amount that is awarded to the plaintiff (injured party). These damages may also be called “economic” and “non-economic”. General damages generally include full compensation for mental anguish, decreases in quality of life, physical disfigurement/impairment, and loss of companionship. Special damages are deemed those that are an after result of the injury which may be out of pocket expenses for the plaintiff and should be covered by the at-fault party. Three types of special damages are:
Repair/ replacement of property. Let’s say that Driver A was hit by Driver B who was under the influence of alcohol. The general damages for this situation would include medical bills incurred by Driver A. The special damages includes the cost to repair or replace Driver A’s damaged vehicle.
Future medical expenses. The long term effect of injuries sustained by Driver A are unknown. This can lead to settlements taking longer to finalize as both the plaintiff and their physicians will want to be sure that any potential health risks are accounted for.
Loss of wages or earning capacity. Driver A was forced to undergo shoulder surgery as a result of the accident. The limitation on his range of motion will not prevent him from being able to do his former job as an emergency service worker. His inability to apply heavy amounts of pressure to his shoulder (a necessary part of the job) may leave him needing to find something new. This loss of wages must also be accounted for.
Special damages are generally exact dollar amounts based on the facts and figures at hand. For example, if Driver A drove an old car and the insurance company assessed its value at $500, then this would be the amount that Driver B would have to pay. Determining the cost of future medical expenses and loss of wages is more complicated. Expert witnesses are typically needed to attest to their projected concept of these damages before a settlement can be reached.
As an injured party, it is vital that your settlement include both general and special damages. The best approach to this is to enlist an experienced legal representative who knows the ins and outs of personal injury claims. With careful consideration to your current situation, mental anguish, and potential future problems, it is possible to receive the settlement you deserve to reestablish your quality of life. The Attorneys of SM Law Group have years of experience getting the settlement results our clients want. Call us today for a free consultation.