When you have suffered an injury because of the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another individual or entity, you may have legal grounds to file a claim against the person who is responsible. Personal injury cases fall under a broad category of the civil law called torts, which are civil wrongs. By filing personal injury lawsuits against the people or entities that are responsible for your injuries and your resulting losses, you might recover damages so that you can be made financially whole. The experienced and compassionate lawyers at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave are dedicated to helping people who have been injured recover fair compensation, and to do that, we will determine the types of damages that apply to your case.
Understanding the Different Types of Damages
Personal injury claims may include three primary types of damages: general damages, special damages, and punitive damages. The damages that you might be able to recover in your case will depend on the facts of what happened, the severity of your injuries, your expected ability to recover, and the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct. Your attorney will assess the facts of your potential claim, and if you have valid legal grounds to file a lawsuit, your attorney will work to properly value your claim and provide you with a range of expected values within which your settlement or award might reasonably be expected to fall.
Most personal injury claims will include compensatory damages, which can be divided into two primary types of damages: special damages and general damages.
Special damages refer to the economic losses that are quantifiable that you have suffered because of your injury accident. For example, you might recover damages for past related medical bills that you have incurred since your accident as well as the value of future expected medical costs that may be needed for treatment of your injuries going forward. Similarly, you may recover the past income losses that you suffered from being forced to miss work. If you are unable to return to your job because of your injuries or have a reduced earning capacity, you might also recover your future income losses or reduction in your ability to earn a living. Other special damages might include your property losses or the cost to repair your damaged property.
General damages are compensatory damages that are difficult to quantify. They are also known as noneconomic losses. These are losses that you have suffered because of your injuries that are intangible in nature and might include the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduction in your ability to enjoy life
- Scarring and permanent disfigurement
- Loss of consortium for your spouse
Additional Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
If your claim is a case based on the wrongful death of your loved one, the potential damages are slightly different and include the following:
- The loss of your loved one’s income
- Lost inheritance rights
- Medical expenses incurred to care for your loved one until he or she passed away
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- The physical pain and suffering that your loved one experienced before he or she died
- Loss of consortium, love, society, affection, and companionship
- Loss of the guidance and love provided by your loved one to children
Punitive damages are monetary amounts that are not meant to compensate plaintiffs for the losses that they have suffered. Instead, they are damages that are over and above the amount of the economic and noneconomic losses that were suffered and are meant to punish the defendant or defendants for their actions and to deter others from engaging in the similarly bad conduct. In practice, punitive damages are not available in most personal injury cases and are reserved for situations in which the conduct of the defendant was particularly egregious, e.g. drunk driving or unconscionable behavior by the defendant.
How Much Compensation Can You Expect?
It is common for personal injury victims to ask what they might expect to receive in their cases. However, every personal injury case is unique, and there is not a one-size-fits-all damages amount for different personal injury cases.
If anyone tells you that they know what your case is worth before they have reviewed the evidence, then you should view that claim with skepticism. Instead, your lawyer will evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case, based on the evidence, and your likelihood of recovery at trial. Any out-of-court settlement is based on what would likely happen in court. An experienced, knowledgeable lawyer may consult with experts to arrive at an appropriate range of values and the types of damages that you might expect to recover. You can then evaluate potential offers that are extended to you based on the values that your lawyer provides to you.
Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave to learn about your rights and explore your options. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. For a free case evaluation, fill out our online contact form, or call us at 417-322-2222.