Personal injury cases can be complex. Many victims don’t understand what types of damages they can seek compensation for. As a result, some end up with less than they deserve.
To help prevent that from happening to you, this article will go over the three main types of damages you can collect in personal injury cases and how to calculate them. Let’s get started!
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Economic damages are direct, measurable expenses you incur due to the accident. They’re also known as “special damages.” Because they are tied to a measurable loss, they are also the easiest to quantify.
Some examples of economic damages include medical bills, such as hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, prescriptions, and medical supplies. Lost income and benefits such as lost wages, commissions, and bonuses can also count toward economic damages.
The same goes for property damage, such as vehicle repairs, or damaged personal items, like a broken cell phone. Other economic damages include travel expenses to the doctor, accessibility modifications to your home due to a disability, and personal care costs for daily activities like dressing, bathing, and cooking.
To collect these damages, it’s vital that you keep track of your expenses so that you have proof of them. Otherwise, you may be on your own.
Non-economic damages (aka “general damages”) are those that are difficult to quantify because they are subjective. These include pain and suffering, discomfort, mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation, permanent disabilities and impairments, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of quality of life.
For example, if the accident paralyzed you or left you with brain damage, this may permanently reduce your ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
In some cases, the victim’s spouse can also collect loss of consortium damages. These are meant to compensate the spouse for no longer being able to enjoy the victim’s love and affection, comfort, sexual relations, ability to have children, and companionship.
Obviously, there are many factors at play in determining non-economic damages. However, just as with economic damages, it helps to have evidence. So you may want to keep a journal to detail your pain and suffering after an accident, for example.
Punitive damages are meant to punish perpetrators who have exhibited egregious behavior and deter them from engaging in similar behavior in the future. It’s not meant to compensate the victim (although the money still goes to the victim). These types of damages are rare, but it’s important to understand what they are in case they apply to your case.
Examples of cases where punitive damages might be applicable include assault, abuse, or an accident caused by a drunk driver.
To collect punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, oppression, or conscious indifference to the consequences of their actions. It’s a high standard of proof.
To calculate damages, collect all the evidence you have first: bills, employment records, repair estimates, receipts, and so on. From there, you can calculate economic damages by adding up the expense values.
Calculating non-economic damages is a bit harder since they aren’t tied to a measurable cost. A common approach is to multiply the economic damages by a value of 1.5 to 5.
However, it’s best to consult a reputable personal injury lawyer who can help you calculate these in an accurate way. They can also fight on your behalf in court and with insurance companies, who are incentivized to pay you the least amount of damages possible (insurance companies are businesses, after all).
Now that you know the three main types of personal injury damages available and how to calculate them, you’re better positioned to maximize your total compensation. Good luck!