Most people who find themselves filing a personal injury lawsuit have many questions. After all, most people never expect to be in that kind of situation. A very common question is about what kinds of damages they are entitled to recover. This is something that is important for you to have a good understanding of early in the process so you can claim the right things. Of course, you should speak to a personal injury attorney to have your questions answered, but his guide will also provide you with the answer to this question.
Types of Damages
There are three categories that damages can fall into:
- Special Compensatory Damages
- General Compensatory Damages
- Punitive Damages
Special compensatory damages are the most basic. They relate to all financial losses. Essentially, if you can objectively state how much a loss was worth in exact dollar value, then it falls into this category. For example, if you have a $500 hospital bill, then you could claim $500 as special compensatory damage.
General compensatory damages are the opposite of special compensatory damages. They relate to non-financial losses. If it is impossible to objectively state how much a loss is worth monetarily, then it falls into this category. For example, if you had to go through a particularly painful medical procedure due to the injury, you might be able to claim it as pain and suffering, which is general compensatory damage. The judge will be the one to decide how much a claim in this category is worth.
Finally, the third category of damages is punitive damages. However, punitive damages are very different from the other two. As you might expect from the name, punitive damages are not about compensation. Instead, they are assigned as punishment for the defendant by the judge. This only happens when the judge decides that compensating the plaintiff is not adequate punishment. Due to this, punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases. They usually are only assigned when the defendant caused the injury intentionally or acted especially irresponsibly, such as by driving while drunk.
Despite the simple differences between the types of damages, it may sometimes be difficult to sort your claims into the categories. An attorney will be able to help you with this and provide advice on what to claim and what not to claim. The very first thing you should do when you know you plan to file a lawsuit is to hire an attorney to represent you.