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What Are Different Types of Damages That Are Recoverable in Personal Injury Law?


Knowing the types of compensatory damages is key to getting a fair payment after a personal injury accident. Compensatory damages are the sum total of a broad category of losses that the victim may suffer. They make up the basics of monetary compensation for any personal injury claim. Compensatory damages are intended to reflect the various ways that the victim suffers because of the accident.

A personal injury claim or lawsuit is the way that the victim recovers what they’re owed legally. Generally, and with some exceptions, the law requires the person or company that causes the accident to bear the financial burden of the loss. In other words, they owe the victim a sum of money.

Knowing the monetary amount of compensatory damages is critical to fairly valuing the losses suffered by the plaintiff. The various categories of compensatory damages comprise all of the damages that are intended to make the victim whole for the various losses that they suffer. Any victim should understand the types of compensatory damages.

Types of Compensatory Damages

Here are the types of compensatory damages:

  • Bodily injury care including all forms of medical treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • Nursing care; home modifications; wheelchairs, scooters, and crutches
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Scars; permanent physical limitations
  • Mental health care; anxiety; PTSD
  • Loss of consortium/companionship; loss of household services
  • Property damages
  • Lost wages; lost future income and career path changes

Compensatory damages can be classified as economic or non-economic, or as special damages and general. Some kinds of damages are financial losses. These kinds of losses are expenses that a victim has because of the accident like the cost of medical treatment, prescription medications and even traveling to medical appointments. In addition, economic or special damages also include ways that the victim can no longer earn income that they might have earned otherwise; for example, if the victim is unable to continue working at their job in the short term or even in the long term.

Other kinds of damages can’t be totaled using a personal injury calculator. These kinds of damages are the suffering and the personal changes that the victim endures. Pain and suffering damages from a personal injury accident fall in this category. Sometimes, it’s not easy to value the various categories of compensatory damages, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help.

Remember, damages include both current and future losses. If the effects of the accident last 10 years into the future, for example, then you deserve a personal injury settlement that reflects 10 years of losses and suffering. It’s even possible for compensatory damages to last the rest of your life. Compensatory damages are both short-term and long-term losses.

General Damages in a Personal Injury Case

If you’re hurt in a personal injury accident, you may have heard of the term general damages. Compensatory damages may be separated into special damages and general damages. General damages are non-financial losses. They occur because the personal injury accident itself happened.

For example, if the victim has scars or disfigurement because of the accident, those are general damages. Pain and suffering is a type of general damages, too. The law requires the person responsible for the accident to pay for the victim’s general damages, whatever they may be. Even if the victim is particularly vulnerable, or suffers more harm than an ordinary person may have suffered, the victim deserves compensation for the full amount of their losses.

Are There Damages in a Personal Injury Case that Are Not Compensatory Damages?

With compensatory damages covering both economic and non-economic damages, you may be wondering if there are any kinds of damages in a personal injury lawsuit that are not compensatory. The answer is yes. Punitive damages are a kind of damages that may be available in a personal injury lawsuit that are not compensatory. Punitive damages are not meant to pay the victim for their losses, although it’s the victim that receives them.

Punitive damages are meant to serve as a penalty to the defendant for very serious misconduct. Because the civil courts don’t have jail time as a penalty, punitive damages serve as a way to scold a defendant for terrible conduct that leads to an accident. They also serve as a deterrent to others who might consider taking the same kinds of bad actions.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You With Compensatory Damages?

A personal injury attorney can ensure that a personal injury victim advocates for all of their rights under the law. Personal injury cases are won by knowing all of the types of compensation possible, and then successfully pursuing those types of losses. A personal injury lawyer has the training to understand those categories and determine whether they apply. Then, they know what it takes in order to value them appropriately and gather the evidence to pursue a fair settlement. A personal injury settlement worksheet should include all of the types of compensatory damages as well as punitive damages, if appropriate.

Author's Bio: 

Tracy Cortez is a blogger for Adam S. Kutner, a personal injury law firm based in Las Vegas

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