What You Need to Know About Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In a personal injury case, a plaintiff may seek compensation for an injury they suffered, property damage, or any other kinds of losses. This type of compensation is defined as “damages” and may be broken down into several categories concerning different types of wrongful actions and awarded damages. Here’s everything you need to know about the types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Compensatory Damages

The main two categories of damages awarded in a personal injury case are compensatory and punitive. Broadly speaking, compensatory damages are essentially the reimbursement or compensation for harm suffered by an injured party.

Related: Compensatory vs Punitive Damages in California

Compensatory Damages should be available in almost all personal injury cases, and may be broken down into several other categories of compensation.

Special Compensatory Damages

Also often referred to as “economic damages”, this type of personal injury compensation includes quantifiable, out-of-pocket expenses. They are unique to the individual victim, and there is no limit to the types of special damage claims that can be made. Some of the most common types of special compensatory damages include medical expenses (past and future), expenses associated with the damage of property (including repair and replacement), lost wages or loss of earning capacity (past and future), loss of irreplaceable items, or expenses associated with canceled or altered trips.

General Compensatory Damages

Unlike special compensatory damages which may be more easily calculated and estimated to a neat figure, general damages can be more difficult to quantify. Examples of general compensatory damages include pain and suffering, lower quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, inconvenience, or loss of companionship. These types of damages address harm that is “generally” sustained in an injury, as personal injury victims are expected to have at least some general damages involved.

Wrongful Death Damages

This type of compensatory damage is a mix of the previous two categories only applicable within wrongful death cases. Surviving members of the victim will typically receive damages related to funeral and burial costs, loss of financial contribution, cost of medical care prior to the wrongful death, emotional distress or mental anguish for surviving family members, or loss of companionship.

Related: How to Calculate Wrongful Death Damages in California

Punitive Damages

Rather than compensate a victim for their losses, punitive damages are responsible for solely punishing the party that caused the personal injury or wrongful death of a loved one. Punitive damages are awarded to an injured plaintiff when the court finds that the defendant acted with malicious intent or gross negligence, caused extensive financial issues, or committed a reprehensible crime such as fraud or assault.

Examples of conduct that may give rise to the awarding of punitive damages might be a drunk driver causing serious injury or death, or manufacturers creating defective products that lead to health risks. In order to seek the aforementioned damages, a plaintiff must specifically ask for an award of punitive damages. It is also important to note that some states, such as Nevada, have a cap on punitive damages in a personal injury case. However, states such as California do not follow in the same regard.

Related: Punitive Damages in California Personal Injury Cases

FAQs About Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

How do I claim compensation for a personal injury?

It is often a rarity when companies and individuals own up to their mistakes. For this reason, it may be beneficial to contact a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for your unique situation, and aid you in understanding what damages you may be entitled to.

What are nominal damages?

Nominal damages are established when a plaintiff has established that they have suffered harm due to another party’s actions. However, these types of damages are awarded when a court deems the injury to be minimal or insignificant, or when a plaintiff cannot prove the actual value of their losses at all from a defendant’s wrongful behavior.

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If you have any more questions about the types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in California today!