No two personal injury cases are the same. The circumstances, people involved, type of accident, and even the actions taken before, during, and after the incident can all affect the case. There’s no one true system to determine how every case will work out, but there are some guidelines that help lawyers determine what the compensation should be for the case.
The first type of damages is called “special” damages. These payouts are meant to replace what was lost by the victim due to the injury. Medical bills are the easiest payout to calculate because they’re just recompense for direct payments incurred as a result of the injury, but this category also covers any recurring medical expenses for multiple treatments, as well as items such as lost wages (current and future) and rehabilitation or nursing care. If property is damaged or lost, that is factored into special damages, as well.
The second type of damages is called “general” damages. These damages are awarded for items that cannot be easily valued. For example, general damages include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (when an injury makes a loved one lose something, like a father not being able to play ball with his son anymore). As you can see, general damages can be very broad, especially when an injury is severe.
“Punitive damages” are very different from special or general damages. Instead of trying to reimburse the victim, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants whose actions or inactions may have led to injury or death. This type of damages is used as an incentive for defendants to avoid causing similar incidents in the future. Punitive damages have limitations in most states so that companies can’t be charged outrageous amounts. In fact, in California, punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases.
The victim’s actions can also greatly impact award amounts. If an accident is deemed to be your fault or partially your fault, your compensation can be decreased, sometimes dramatically. Your compensation may also be reduced if you don’t take steps to minimize your damages, such as waiting until your condition worsens to get medical treatment or failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
If you or your family may be entitled to a settlement after you were severely injured, talk to our lawyers at the Alexander Law Group. Our team of professionals will advise you about the value of your personal injury case.