Special Damages in Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
When you read or hear about a personal injury lawsuit in the news, there is often some sort of damages mentioned. An award of damages comes after a successful personal injury case. Special damages refer to tangible losses with a value that is easy to calculate. Understanding what types of damages fall under the category of special requires the knowledge of a personal injury attorney.
A jury typically decides the number of compensatory damages awarded to the victim. Special damages and general damages fall under the broader term of compensatory damages. The two are quite different in meaning, due to the ability to assign a value to the type of damage experienced.
Special damages – Sometimes referred to as economic damages, special damages include out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from the negligent actions of the defendant. A goal of awarding special damages is to place the victim in a position they would be in had they not suffered their injuries.
These types of damages are based upon fair market value at the time of the incident. The following types of special damages are often found in a personal injury claim:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of irreplaceable items
- Replacement or repair of property damage
- Costs associated with lessening their own liability
- Personal care costs
- Cost of living with a disability
- Funeral costs associated with the death of a loved one
These types of damages are easy to calculate and to assign a monetary value. The victim must clearly define all special damages in their personal injury claim before a jury begins deliberations.
General damages – These types of damages refer to items that are hard to give a monetary value and include such examples as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship
Insurance companies tend to find special damages easier to award due to the specificity of the damages. For example, medical bills and pay stubs are easy to document due to their documentation of monetary value. General damages are intangible damages that are harder to associate with specific monetary value.
Types of Personal Injury Cases Resulting in Damages
A personal injury can occur in a variety of circumstances. Some of the most common examples of personal injury lawsuits that result in special damages include:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Product defect
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Trucking accidents
The serious types of injuries associated with these types of injuries include expensive medical care such as:
- Spinal cord injury – Powerchairs for mobility, home modifications, rehospitalizations.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Therapies including speech, physical, and occupational and around-the-clock care in a skilled living facility.
- Burns – Treatment at a specialized burn center, often far from friends and family.
- Broken bones – Multiple broken bones requiring future surgeries and often occupational and physical therapies.
- Internal injuries – Resulting in internal bleeding and/or possible organ damage.
Anyone of these types of serious injury can make any existing medical conditions worse. Dealing with painful injuries and multiple procedures is incredibly stressful for you and your family.
Your financial future is most likely causing you to lose sleep. With rest so important for your health, discussing your case with an attorney may help you to feel better knowing that your case is in good hands. No one should pay out-of-pocket for injuries caused by another person’s negligence. When it comes time for a jury to award damages, ensuring that you and your legal team are properly prepared is essential for a potentially successful outcome of your case.
Punitive damages are types of damages intended to punish the defendant for inflicting the victim’s injuries. Punitive damages are also designed to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Punitive damages are generally awarded when the defendant’s conduct was extreme. A jury must award compensatory damages first and not every personal injury lawsuit results in an award of punitive damages.
Why You Need an Attorney
Navigating the complex law of personal injury claims is best left to a legal professional. An attorney experienced with Florida personal injury cases and who has jury experience can provide you with great peace-of-mind. The court system is confusing and there are strict legal guidelines for pursuing a claim. If a jury awards the victim an amount the court considers too high—or too low—the court has the right to adjust the amount without a new trial or appeal. As a victim, you get one chance at presenting the best case possible for the damages you deserve.
Any attempt at representing yourself or handling negotiations with an insurance company alone can lead to disappointment. A licensed personal injury attorney has the education, training, skills, and experience necessary for a legal claim. Accepting an initial settlement offer can prevent you from pursuing future litigation should your medical condition worsen. The time immediately following an accident is stressful and overwhelming as you learn to deal with your injuries. It is no time to try to handle your case on your own. Insurance companies are only looking out for their own best interests, making it imperative that you secure legal representation to protect your own best interests.
Personal injury attorneys who work with accident victims treat them with care and compassion while aggressively fighting for fair compensation. While money cannot return you to life as you knew it before the accident, it can provide for your future medical needs. Securing an award that is appropriate for your special and general damages is the ultimate goal for you and your family. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, your wrongful death case may result in special and general damages. Wrongful death cases rely heavily on less tangible types of damages, such as loss of companionship. While it is difficult to put a monetary value on the life of someone you loved, general damages are possible depending upon the circumstances of your case.
The Benefits of a Free Case Evaluation
Before a case reaches the damages stage, it must first result in a successful outcome. Most Florida personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations. Bring all the documents related to your case to your evaluation. This can include but is not limited to:
- Medical bills and estimated future medical costs
- Proof of purchase and value of damaged property
- Lost wages and potential future earnings
- Witness statements and contact information
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Police reports
If you cannot find them, your lawyer can help you find them.
You have nothing to lose by scheduling a free case evaluation. A majority of personal injury attorneys collect nothing unless they secure compensation for you. Having as much documentation as possible is vital to your case because it can help a jury decide upon the number of damages it might award.
No one can predict the future, however, rising medical costs demonstrate that your need for medical care will only escalate. A personal injury attorney can make a strong case to a jury regarding your need for ongoing, quality, medical care, and personal care.
The injuries you suffered due to the negligence of another person changed your life. The amount of compensation for what you lost as a result of a drunk driver, construction accident, or motorcycle accident is up to the jury. While a judge may overturn the decision and increase—or decrease—the award, the final decision has a tremendous impact on your future.
Special Damages and What They Mean For You
When you experience out-of-pocket expenses due to an injury caused by the reckless actions of another person, a jury may award you special damages. Understanding that these damages are specific to tangible costs that are easily calculated with a monetary value is important as you await the jury’s decision.
Outlining your specific, special damages is best done with legal assistance. A personal injury attorney can help you gather and document everything you need in terms of receipts, payments, bills, and paychecks. Most personal injury attorneys only collect a fee if they secure compensation for you. Pursuing justice with a personal injury claim may lead you to an award of damages that protect your financial future.
Time is of the Essence For Your Claim
Each case is different and one can never predict what a jury will decide. Knowing you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help ease your anxiety about the jury’s decision. Your attorney can advocate for you in court and call expert witnesses. They will work hard to secure the best possible outcome of your case. Just as there is often no quick recovery for your injuries, pursuing justice takes time.
Time is important when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. The clock begins ticking the moment you become injured. The statute of limitations sets strict guidelines for pursuing a personal injury claim. The sooner an attorney reviews your case, the sooner they can decide upon the best course of action for you. If you were seriously injured due to no fault of your own, consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney without delay.
Compensation Worth Fighting For
When a jury awards damages, it makes its decision on the information it receives regarding your case. What to present and how to present it requires a licensed personal injury attorney. Your injuries changed your life in an instant. The careless disregard of another person placed you in a physical, financial, and emotional nightmare. Florida law allows the pursuit of damages for victims of negligence.
Possible compensation depends upon the type of accident and the injuries suffered as a result. Serious injuries from a car accident, for example, must fall under a “serious injury” threshold, meaning the accident resulted in disfigurement or permanent disability. Wrongful death cases are especially challenging for juries due to putting a price tag on the loss of a loved one. Despite the challenge of such a case, it is your right to pursue compensation for your loss of companionship and associated expenses.
The laws regarding the types of possible damages and how they relate to the specifics of your case is best left to an attorney. Discussing your case with a personal injury attorney is the best way to determine what steps to take next. While there is no immediate answer or solution to your circumstances, you may find that an attorney can ease your mind about your future.
Your injuries were not your fault. You should not suffer financially and physically due to the careless actions of another person. If you believe you have a strong case to discuss with a personal injury attorney, trust your gut instinct. You deserve the chance to fight for compensation for your injuries. Don’t let insurance companies bully you into signing anything. Ignore their calls and consider taking your case to an attorney as soon as possible. You’ll feel better knowing that someone has your back during this difficult time.
Seek an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
It is a smart idea to find a personal injury attorney who understands juries and who keeps the lines of communication open with their clients. The right attorney for you is one who can balance their skills with insurance companies and juries, along with your need for respect and compassion. Time passes quickly when you are dealing with your injuries and learning to adjust to your new life. Scheduling a free case evaluation is an important first step toward fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Special damages, general damages, and punitive damages are complex and complicated. The legal process of a personal injury claim is best left to legal professionals. Your future is too important to risk to chance. Decide to take a proactive approach and to stand up to those whose careless actions resulted in serious injuries to you or the loss of someone you loved.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765