For information regarding the types of personal injury lawsuits that can be brought in California, please read our previous blog. Once you have determined the type of claim you have, it is important to understand what types of damages you can seek to recover. Damages in a personal injury case are mostly categorized into special damages, general damages and punitive damages.
Special damages are your out-of-pocket costs incurred as a result of your injury. These economic damages are usually easy to identify and calculate because they are objective in nature. Below are examples of common special (economic) damages:
- Present and future medical bills, including prescription costs, physical therapy and any other medical expenses related to your injury
- Hospitalization expenses
- Loss of wages
- Loss of future job opportunities or earning capacity (this claim is more speculative, but your attorney can help you estimate it based on a variety of factors)
- Loss of your property or expenses related to repairing damage to your property
All plaintiffs in personal injury cases are entitled to recover proven special damages.
General damages are your non-economic damages incurred as a result of the injury. General damages are more subjective and difficult to calculate. Non-economic damages include your emotional or psychological suffering caused by the pain or trauma caused by the injury. In fact, it is common for people to refer to this type of damage as compensation for your “pain and suffering.” Below are a few of the considerations in determining your general damages:
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or loss of consortium for surviving family member
- Disability or impairment impacting your quality of life
This list is not exhaustive, so it is important to confer with a personal injury attorney to determine your general damages.
When you hear about a personal injury case with an extremely large damage aware, it is typically due to the punitive damages awarded to the plaintiff. As the name indicates, punitive damages are awarded by the court to punish the at-fault party who has engaged in particularly egregious behavior. An award of punitive damages is not meant to compensate the plaintiff, but to discourage similar bad behavior. Punitive damages are typically awarded only when the defendant acted willfully in a malicious, wanton or reckless manner.
Contact the Law Office of Alex Cha & Associates today. We will help you seek and obtain the damages you are entitled to.