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What are Damages?

Damages are the primary focus of every personal injury case. The term “damages” refers to the monetary compensation that the court orders the defendant to pay to the plaintiff in order to make up for previous losses or injuries. It is possible to issue a judgment ordering the defendant or the person who is responsible for the losses to make monetary payments to compensate for the damages.

Special damages and general damages are two subcategories that fall under the umbrella of ‘damages.’

Special Damages

Special damages are specific, quantifiable costs. The following are some examples of special damages:

  • Costs incurred by the hospital because of an injury
  • Property damage, such as those needed for a wrecked car in the event of an auto accident
  • Replacing property that has been lost, stolen, or destroyed
  • Lost wages as a result of being unable to work because of the injury

General Damages

Damages to the general environment are much more difficult to quantify. They are the direct repercussions that the accident or injury will have on the victim’s life going forward. Most frequently, direct damages are associated with human suffering and changes that cannot be undone. Take, for instance:

  • Pain and suffering experienced on account of a physical injury
  • Mental suffering 
  • Impairment of the body, such as a disability that lasts a lifetime as a result of the accident
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement as a result of the accident
  • Deterioration in quality of life
  • Loss of companionship

It should come as no surprise that it is much more difficult to put a dollar amount on general damages. In many situations, no amount of financial compensation could ever make up for what has occurred; this is especially true in the event of the loss of a loved one or the suffering of a disability that is permanent. 

The law does not make the assumption that the money will “fix” the situation; rather, it takes the position that the defendant owes the plaintiff something for their loss and that money goes a long way toward helping the plaintiff keep their life on track.

What Types of Damages Am I Entitled To?

The precise amount of damages is going to depend on the case. The amount of damages awarded in a case involving a dog bite, for instance, can be very different from the amount awarded in a case involving abuse in a nursing home. 

In general, special damages are simple to prove because the cost can be documented or estimated. However, you will need to provide very specific amounts in order to win your case. 

Although jury awards of general damages are less common, they are not uncommon in more serious cases. Juries tend to be more conservative. Because they are not tied to specific numbers like a hospital bill, general damages are more likely to vary significantly from one case to another as well as from one county to the next. This is especially true when comparing the same type of injury in different locations. 

Talking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case is the most effective way to obtain information regarding the types of damages for which you may be eligible.

The Brown Firm offers free consultations to all accident victims so you can speak with an experienced lawyer and find out how we can best assist with the recovery of all of your losses. 

Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

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