What are Special Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

June 24, 2020

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligent or careless actions of another person, you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. These cases are complicated, but victims should generally be able to receive compensation for various expenses related to their injuries.

Typically, these types of damages are referred to as “general damages” or “special damages.” Understanding the difference between the two can be confusing, particularly if you do not have any legal experience. Here, we want to discuss what special damages are in a personal injury case.

Types of Special Damages

Special damages are also referred to as “economic damages.” In general, these types of damages are fairly straightforward in a personal injury case because they are relatively easy to calculate. Special damages in a personal injury case can include the following:

  • All medical bills related to the injury, including the cost of hospital stays, follow up doctor visits, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescription medications, medical devices, and more.
  • Any lost income or benefits a person incurs if they cannot work while they recover. This can also include a loss of future earnings or lost earning capacity that a victim incurs if they are not able to return to work or able to return but a job that pays less then what they previously received.
  • The cost of repairing or replacing any damaged property caused by the incident that caused the injury, including vehicle damage or damage to a home.

Why are These Damages Easy to Calculate?

Special damages, as opposed to general damages that we will discuss in a moment, are easier to calculate because an injury victim or their Martinsburg personal injury attorney will be able to provide concrete proof of a loss. This can include medical bills, pay stubs, tax returns, and more.

An exception to special damages that are easy to calculate would be coverage of future medical expenses and loss of future earnings. Because these expenses have not happened yet, there is no way to definitively prove exact costs. Both future expected medical bills and future lost earnings will need to be estimated and may require assistance from medical and economic expert witnesses.

General Damages, Explained Briefly

The other type of damages that are often awarded in a personal injury case are called “general damages,” also sometimes referred to as “non-economic damages.” General damages refer to the various physical and emotional pain and suffering that an injury victim endures. Some of the most common types of general damages that are awarded in these cases includes:

  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss personal enjoyment damages
  • Mental anguish damages
  • Loss of consortium damages
  • Loss of companionship damages

General damages are typically going to be harder to calculate than the special damages mentioned above. There are no bills or receipts that can show a person’s mental anguish.

Is an Attorney Necessary to Prove Special Damages?

Most personal injury cases are handled out of court and through settlements with insurance carriers. However, it is not uncommon for insurance carriers to make unreasonably low offers or to even deny a claim. It may be necessary to involve an accident attorney to help force an insurance carrier to make a fair settlement. If the insurance company still refuses to adequately compensate an injury victim, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against an alleged negligent party.


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