In a personal injury lawsuit, if you have suffered injuries and damages, you can seek compensation from the person or entity who caused those losses. There are several types of damages that can be generally categorized as compensatory or punitive, with some subcategories under compensatory. Below is more information about the different types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Special compensatory damages compensate you for the monetary expenses you incurred because of your injury. They are unique to you and can vary from one party to the next. A special damages award is designed to ‘make the victim whole’ for the expenses incurred, or money lost because of the incident or accident that caused the injuries.
Special compensatory damages will cover any loss or expense related to your injuries. There is no limit to the types of special damages claims you can make or the amount you may claim. Some of the common types of special compensatory damages are:
- Loss of wages: If you are injured and unable to work, you may be entitled to lost earnings both in the past and present.
- Loss of future wages: If your injury is more serious, you may be out of work for weeks or months, so you would be entitled to this compensation.
- Medical costs: As the weeks pass and your injuries are healing, you may incur thousands of dollars in medical expenses. You may have to pay for these out of pocket for the time being, or your health insurance can be used until a settlement is reached.
- Cost of future medical care: If your injuries are severe, you could have months of medical expenses and treatments ahead.
- Household expenses: With serious injuries, you may need help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, and bathing.
Costs related to canceled trips or changed plans: You may have planned and paid for a two-week cruise that you cannot go on. You can be reimbursed for this sunk cost.
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General compensatory damages pay you for non-monetary damages that you incur in a personal injury claim. They are referred to as general damages because they deal with harm that generally occurs in an injury. All personal injury victims should have some form of general damages:
- Pain and suffering: Anyone who has injuries from a car accident will have some level of pain and suffering. If you have more severe injuries with weeks or months of medical treatments, you can expect to get more pain and suffering compensation.
- Mental anguish: This type of compensation is for the mental pain that you suffer from your current physical condition and inability to live your life as you normally would.
- Loss of consortium or companionship: Some injured people are no longer able to have an intimate relationship with their partner because of their injuries and physical or mental limitations from the accident.
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You only receive punitive damages in a car accident lawsuit if the wrongful behavior of the other party was especially reckless. A common situation is where the victim of a car accident is awarded punitive damages to punish the defendant because he was extremely drunk when he got in the accident that hurt you. Other types of punitive damages can be awarded when there is a defective product that was made in such a way as to be a serious danger to the public.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death lawsuit provides compensation for the surviving family of the deceased. The most common damages in a wrongful death claim are:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Emotional distress of the surviving family
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of consortium and companionship.