When you’ve been injured in an accident and decide to pursue a personal injury claim, what you are really seeking are “damages”. Damages is a legal term for money awarded to a party in a lawsuit. In the case of an auto accident, a party seeks compensatory damages. As you might infer from the name, compensatory damages are intended to compensate for a loss or injury. There are three primary categories of compensatory damages a party may seek, as a car accident lawyer trusts can explain.
- Special Damages
Special damages compensate for a quantifiable loss of money. These damages are easy to assign a dollar amount to because they are derived from things like:
- Automobile Repair Bills
- Medical Bills
- Future Medical Bills
- Therapy bills
- Lost wages (calculated from your salary)
Special damages are pulled straight from the actual dollar amounts assigned to your bills. Things are a little less clear when future costs must be calculated, but those numbers can be assessed through expert witnesses (professionals in their field) and past evidence (previous bills for example).
- General Damages
General damages intend to compensate a party for loss or injury that is not easily calculable. Common general damages include:
- Physical Pain and Suffering
- Mental Pain and Suffering
- Physical Disfigurement/Impairment
- Loss of Companionship
- Lower Quality of Life
The dollar amount awarded for general damages varies greatly from case to case. Every person leads a different lifestyle according to their age, sex, occupation, community, etc. It can seem a bit callous, but a dollar amount must be assigned to the general damages based on that person’s lifestyle to then be able to determine how the accident resulted in a loss of that lifestyle. As a result, the manner in which general damages are calculated is never the same.
- Punitive Damages
Rare, and used in instances of extreme neglect, punitive damages award extra money on top of the special and general damages and are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury and/or loss. If an injured party shows that the responsible party was so grossly negligent in causing the accident, the court may award punitive damages.
How much and what type of damages a party is awarded depends on the specific facts of each case. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact the law offices of Cohen & Cohen. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you understand what sort of damages you may be entitled to and will fight to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.