Legal Guide

What Are The 3 Types of Damages? Personal Injury

When you prepare for a personal injury lawsuit, you get through a lot of emotional stress. Nobody knows if there would be enough funds to cover medical bills and support your family while you can't work. It is also unclear what types of damages a personal injury trial can recognize to the people involved.

Your car accident lawyer may help you identify which of the three types of damages apply to your case. In personal injury cases, you can usually have general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

General Damages

When accusing someone of causing you general damages, it is usually a non-financial claim. Pain, suffering, and emotional distress are the most common general damages you can claim in a court of law. They cannot be easily measured, but lawyers and judges usually have ways to calculate the damage in monetary values.

Receiving recovery for general damages depends on the type of car accident you were involved in and survived. People involved in a minor car accident with fewer injuries and shorter hospitalization time could never persuade the jurors to grant them a bigger general damages recovery. 

On the other hand, you may have suffered injuries causing permanent deformities that need a lot of time and effort to recover. That's the type of general damages to qualify for personal grief, pain, and suffering, giving you higher chances to receive a substantial recovery. People who have lost their family members (loss of consortium) or lost their good reputation due to a car accident may also qualify for general damages claims.

Special Damages

Following the general damages claims, special damages are completely calculable. The plaintiff can sue the defendant for incurred damages to his car and his health recovery and rehabilitation bills. Your lawyer should be ready to present your precise medical bills and all the exact rehabilitation costs to the court. Furthermore, your car accident may cause you a partial or permanent inability to work. That is another reason to calculate the lost wages (present and future) and ask the jurors to grant you a full recovery for all the paychecks you haven’t received. 

The goal would be for the plaintiff to fully recover from all the adverse effects of the car accident. The defendant who is liable for the accident has to pay the plaintiff in full. There are times when the special and general damages incurred to the plaintiff are so intense and cruel that criminal damages may also apply.

Criminal Damages

The plaintiff could sometimes prove that the defendant's behavior has been reckless and cruel. That constitutes criminal intent in some jurisdictions. The defendant might not be fully liable for his behavior if other parties or entities forced them to drive recklessly. For instance, if the defendant is a company driver rushing to deliver goods and services, violating the speed limits could also make the company liable for punitive charges. 

The court is there to decide the granting of an extra recovery for criminal damages. It is necessary to consider the amount of money granted for general and special damages before granting criminal damages recoveries in many jurisdictions. Other states have some caps on the amount of money a plaintiff can ask for criminal damages. These cannot exceed two or three times the amount of general and special damages combined.

How Can A Lawyer Help?

Your lawyer can explain the litigation process and show you a viable way to build your case at the trial. Nobody can easily understand the three types of damages in personal injury cases. Furthermore, your lawyer may reveal types of damages incurred to you by the car accident without you having prior knowledge about them.  

Talking to the legal team about the special conditions of your accident sheds more light on the case. It's important to have all the documentation from police reports and witnesses' testimonies. These will help you prove any kind of damage in a court of law and drag the defendant to a settlement. Your lawyer may also negotiate a settlement for your case that would give you the chance to fully recover from your damages without passing through the timely litigation process.

You have to trust your lawyer and be truthful to him about the accident events and conditions. Only then can you claim your damages and have a greater chance of winning the case. A personal injury claim after a car accident remains a hard-to-prove procedure, and the injured party always carries the burden of proof. 

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