Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Damages in a personal injury claim are intended to compensate you for your injuries and losses fr0m the incident. These compensatory damages fall into two broad groups, special and general damages.

Special Damages

Special damages are economic losses. They may include medical expenses, lost earnings, substitute domestic services, and property damage.

Medical expenses include the reasonable costs of the medical services necessary to treat your injuries from the incident.  Past medical expenses are typically arrived at by adding up the bills for your treatment. Issues may arise if there are long periods of time where you did not seek treatment.  Insurance companies may also want information and records concerning past injuries. Depending on your past medical history, the insurance company may argue that part of your medical expenses were for treatment of injuries that pre-date the accident.  But even if you have a pre-existing condition that was causing you pain or disability, you are entitled to recover for any aggravation of the condition caused by the accident.

You may also be entitled to lost earnings for time you are unable to work because of an accident.  You will need a doctor’s note releasing you from work because of your injuries and documentation for any medical appointments you missed work to attend.  You should be able to recover lost earnings even if you use paid sick days or vacation time. Even though you were paid for the time off, you have now used PTO you can no longer use for any other reason.

Substitute domestic services are another element of special damages. You may be entitled to recover for the cost of hiring a housekeeper to do work you ordinarily would do around the house but can’t do for a period of time because of your injuries. This includes recovery for the reasonable value of services provided by a member of your family.

The most typical property damage is the cost to repair your car after a collision. You are entitled to either the reasonable value of necessary repairs, or the difference in the fair market value of your car immediately before and after the collision, whichever is less. Even if your car is repaired, if its market value after it is repaired is less than before the collision, you are entitled to this diminished value.

General Damages

General damages are noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering,  inconvenience, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. As these damages are non-monetary, it is difficult to place a dollar figure on them, but you are still entitled to compensation for them.

Claims adjusters and personal injury attorneys review your medical records to help them gauge how severe and long lasting your pain was. So it is important to be as forthright and accurate as you can be in reporting your pain.

Treating health care providers frequently ask you to rate your pain on a 0 to 10 scale. It may be helpful to break this scale down, with 0 being no pain, 1 to 3 being mild pain, 4 to 6 being moderate pain, 7 to 9 being severe pain, and 10 being the most severe pain you can imagine.

Also, let your health care provider know if your pain gets better or worse with physical activity or exercise, or depending on the time of day. And tell your health care provider if your pain prevents you from doing specific activities you were able to do before the incident.