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Gerash Steiner, P.C. Featuring More Than 40 Years of Trial Experience

3 Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

A Closer Look at Damages in a Personal Injury Case

If you got injured through no fault of your own, you need to file a personal injury claim to hold the responsible party accountable for their wrongdoings. Unfortunately, many victims get caught up in the idea that their personal injury claim has no chance of producing a favorable outcome, causing victims to avoid filing a claim altogether. Our attorneys encourage you to see the bigger picture: Your case could be winnable despite what you think.

If you hire a good lawyer to assess the circumstances of your case and gather evidence to better determine your odds, they may be able to successfully negotiate for the highest, fairest settlement on your behalf. As a result, you could be awarded damages.

Damages are a sum of money that plaintiffs get awarded when they win their case. As such, you may be entitled to this compensation if your lawyer proves that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. What are the 3 types of damages awarded in personal injury cases, you ask? They include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

What Is the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

Economic damages are also called “compensatory damages.” Compensatory damages in a personal injury claim compensate victims for their injuries and other losses from the accident. These damages are broken down into special compensatory damages, or economic damages, and general compensatory damages, also known as non-economic damages.

Special compensatory damages are the most common types of damages awarded in a personal injury claim, as they are tangible and thus easily identified and quantified. General compensatory damages are not as easily calculated in a personal injury case because they are not tangible and thus not easily identified and quantified. Imagine putting a price on pain and suffering, for instance. It’s not that easy.

For examples of economic damages and non-economic damages (or special compensatory damages and general compensatory damages, respectively) see below:

Economic Damages (Special Compensatory Damages)

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Transportation costs
  • Medical devices
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Legal fees

Non-Economic Damages (General Compensatory Damages)

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Psychiatric disorders (i.e., PTSD)
  • Loss or impairment of physical or mental capacity
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

What Are Some Examples of Punitive Damages?

Before you feel hopeful that the court could award you punitive damages, know that getting punitive damages is rare in personal injury cases. Punitive damages are a punishment to the defendant if they are found to have committed particularly harmful or extreme wrongdoings to you. If their actions were grossly negligent or intentional, for example, you may get awarded punitive damages in your settlement.

Ultimately, the court aims to incentivize defendants to refrain from repeating their harmful actions by awarding punitive damages to the plaintiff, which, again, rarely happens. With this in mind, your lawyer could be able to tell you whether or not there is a chance of receiving punitive damages in your case.

If you got injured through no fault of your own, you may have a claim. To learn about your legal options, schedule a consultation with our personal injury lawyers online or at (303) 732-5048!