If you are in the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may have heard about something called damages. This is an essential part of the process, so it is vital that you understand what this is and how it works. It is also a quite simple concept, so this quick guide can explain damages and everything you need to know about them. However, it is never a good idea to represent yourself in a personal injury case or any other kind of court case. Always hire a personal injury lawyer.
What Are Damages?
Damages are essentially the ways in which the defendant must compensate the plaintiff if the plaintiff wins the lawsuit. There are all sorts of expenses that you can claim on the trial, and the judge will decide which of the claims are reasonable and order the defendant to pay an amount that represents those claims. The goal of any personal injury trial is to return the victim to the financial state that they were in prior to the injury. So this means you can claim anything that impacted your financial state negatively and was a direct result of the injury, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
The Types of Damages
There are three types of damages, although only two of them appear in personal injury cases regularly. The types of damages are:
- Special compensatory damages
- General compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
Special compensatory damages refer to everything that has an objective monetary value. If you paid $1,000 in medical bills, that falls into the category of special compensatory damage because it has an objective monetary value of $1,000. The same applies if you lost two months of work and get paid $1,600 each month, as they were worth $3,200
General compensatory damages cover everything that does not have an objective monetary value, such as physical or emotional pain, loss of ability, or loss of a family member. In the case of general compensatory damages, the judge will assign a monetary value to these damages.
Punitive damages are very rare in personal injury cases. They are assigned to the defendant strictly as punishment, rather than to reward the plaintiff or provide reimburse. Usually, the only time punitive damages occur in a personal injury case is when the defendant is found to have acted maliciously or especially irresponsibly. Simple accidents do not usually make the cut. Your personal injury lawyer can tell you more about what kinds of damages you should expect in your case.