Accident & Personal Injury Compensation Guide
If you are personally injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.
Soon after you are injured in an accident, you will want to determine how much money you think you are owed. When your insurance company steps in and tries to negotiate a settlement with you, they will .
If no insurance is involved, or if you are unable to settle out of court, you will be filing a small claims, limited civil, or unlimited civil case and you will need to make this decision before filing your lawsuit.
Generally, the person liable for the injury (or that person’s insurance company) is responsible for reimbursing the injured party for all expenses related to their injury, as well as compensating the injured parties for any pain, suffering, or emotional damage they experienced as a result of the injury.
Types of Damages that Can Be Awarded In a Personal Injury Case
Special Compensatory Damages
Special damages compensate the injured parties for monetary expenses incurred because of an injury. They are unique to the individual victim and vary significantly from one party to the next. An award of special damages should make a victim whole for expenses incurred or for money lost due to the incident or accident that caused their injuries.
Special damages cover expenses and losses related to an injury, and there is no limit to the types of special damage claims that can be made, or to the amount of damages an injured party can claim. Some of the more common types of special damages are:
- loss of earnings
- loss of future earnings
- medical bills
- cost of future medical care
- household expenses, and
- costs associated with cancelled trips or altered plans
General Compensatory Damages
General damages compensate injured individuals for damages that are non-monetary in nature. They are called general damages because they attempt redress for harm that is typically or “generally” sustained in an injury. All personal injury victims are expected to have at least some general damages. The most common types of general damages are:
- pain and suffering
- mental anguish, and
- loss of consortium or companionship
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death claim provides damages for surviving family and loved ones. The most common wrongful death damages include:
- funeral and burial expenses
- cost of pre-death medical care
- emotional distress of surviving family and loved ones
- loss of financial contribution
- loss of services and support, and
- loss of companionship and consortium
Punitive damages are only awarded to an injured plaintiff when the wrongful behavior of the defendant was despicable or reprehensible.
A common scenario where punitive damages are awarded arises when a defendant is found guilty of wanton or malicious acts or of fraud. These acts can include aggravated battery, sexual assault, or fraudulent behavior that causes widespread financial harm.
Occasionally, in high-profile injury cases such as those involving defective products or health risks linked with prescription drugs, juries will award punitive damages against product manufacturers and other defendants who have "deep pockets."