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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Are Special Damages in Personal Injury Cases- and How do they Differ from General Damages?

Claiming damages in a personal injury case is a complex legal process- and understanding the types of compensation available for victims is essential for getting the best settlement. One of the categories is special damages- but what are they?

Recovering from an accident is difficult- and facing a legal battle alone can be overwhelming. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate a lawsuit and determine what damages can be claimed is the best way to ensure every avenue is explored and the maximum possible compensation is pursued. They can answer questions like, "How long do most personal injury cases take?"

Understanding Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

Understanding Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

Damages in personal injury claims refer to financial losses and other potential financial recompense after somebody is the victim of an accident or incident that was not their fault. They are claimed from the responsible party and their insurance company as part of a settlement offer.

There are several types of damages considered in a personal injury claim.

Compensatory Damages VS Punitive Damages

All personal injury damages are split into two categories: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages are designed to pay back the victim for everything the accident cost them- financially and emotionally. This includes special and general damages- but more on that later.

Punitive damages refer to payment applied to punish the defendant's negligence. They are also awarded to the victim on top of the compensation for their losses.

Special Damages VS General Damages

Taking a closer look into compensatory damages, they are split between special damages and general damages.

General damages are also called noneconomic damages- because they are awarded to cover the things that do not have a specific monetary value. The defining feature of a general damage award is that it is intangible- there are no receipts available to attach a dollar amount to them. By that same token, they are subjective- because they are based on how a victim feels.

Some of the things covered under general damages are:

  • Reduced quality of life

  • Emotional distress and mental anguish

  • Mental health issues connected to the accident or injuries caused

  • Disability

  • The victim's physical pain

  • Future suffering likely to be caused

The term used to sum up the majority of general damages is pain and suffering. In wrongful death cases, they can also cover the impact the fatality has on the family- especially surviving dependents.

Special damages, on the other hand, do have a specific dollar amount. They are also known as economic damages.

Special Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits: All There Is to Know

Special damages (or economic damages) make up a significant portion of a personal injury lawsuit claim. They are usually the first things considered when building a case for settlement.

What Are They?

The thing that makes a special damage a special damage is the fact they have an exact dollar amount attached- or close to. These tangible losses are what the accident or injury has caused for the victim- and they can seek compensation to reclaim the money from the liable party.

Anything that has cost the victim money as a direct result of their injury can be claimed as special damages. They cover all kinds of out-of-pocket expenses.

Examples of Special Damages

Here are some of the types of special damages victims can claim back in personal injury cases.

Medical Expenses

Medical bills can leave injury victims in a very difficult financial situation. The cost of medical treatment after an injury can easily climb into the tens of thousands- but they can be reclaimed.

On top of the actual medical costs, victims can also claim the cost of the ambulance or other emergency care, the cost of traveling to and from the hospital (including parking) for follow-up care, and the cost of prescriptions and future medical care.

Property-Related Expenses

The next category is property expenses- for the actual property damage and the cost of replacing damaged property. Some examples include:

  • Towing a vehicle after a car accident

  • Costs for replacing a totaled car- or repairs to a damaged vehicle

  • Replacement of items destroyed in the accident

Injury-Related Expenses

Any costs incurred relating to the injury out with the medical expenses can also be reclaimed as special damages. Being injured can interfere with a person's ability to work and earn money- and may require them to hire help at home or attend rehabilitation to help with their recovery.

Here are a few examples of injury-related special damages.

  • Lost wages

  • Ongoing physical therapy

  • Treatments beyond the initial medical care

  • In-home care

How Are They Calculated?

Calculating special damages is fairly straightforward- since they have specific costs attached. Personal injury lawyers in Indianapolis will help gather medical bills, receipts for damaged property, totals for lost income, and any other relevant expenses.

The victim's practitioner calculates the expected total cost of any future treatment (if they have not yet reached maximum medical improvement), and lost wages are calculated based on the pay rate and the number of hours missed.

Final calculations are made by totaling the expenses in each category and adding them together. To give an example, if the total medical expenses are $10,000, it costs $1000 to repair a damaged vehicle, and one week of work was missed at a rate of $200 per day (total of $1400), then the special damages are $12,400.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

A personal injury lawyer can ensure no special damages are missed when putting together a claim. Many victims do not realize just how much they can reclaim- but an attorney can unturn every stone and get the most for their clients. They can also advise on questions like, "Are there damage caps for personal injury cases in Indiana?"

Summary: Special Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In short, special damages in personal injury claims are any out-of-pocket expenses with a tangible dollar amount. They are an important part of any settlement- but they are not the only damages recoverable.

Contact an elite and dedicated personal injury lawyer at Shuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for a free consultation to discuss the special damages you can claim- along with everything else. Let them go to war for you.


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