There are several different categories of damages that a personal injury lawyer will discuss with you depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Most personal injury cases, like car accidents, slip and falls, and dog bites, will be focused on compensatory damages. According to our friends at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law, compensatory damages are made up of two parts, special and general damages.
What are special damages in a personal injury case?
Special damages are those damages which can be quantified by a number and ascertained by some evidence. The most common types of special damages are medical expenses and lost wages. The jury and insurance adjuster can look at your medical bills and determine what that portion of your recovery should be. The same holds true for lost wages by reviewing your income prior to your injuries and then how much it dropped afterward. Any other damages that are financial or otherwise can have a numerical value placed on them easily are special damages.
What are general damages in a personal injury case?
On the other hand, general damages are those damages that flow from the at-fault party’s actions which are not as easily quantifiable but are directly attributable to their negligence. In personal injury cases, the main example is physical pain and mental suffering. Permanent injuries and any scarring/disfigurement would also qualify as general damages.
Physical pain and mental suffering damages are difficult to quantify in any given case. Juries are instructed only to use their common sense and reason to determine the amount awarded, and, as such, the awards for pain and suffering vary widely from case to case. There are a few categories of evidence that your personal injury lawyer will focus on to increase the value of this part of your case:
- Photographs of your injuries – if you suffered significant visible injuries, your lawyer would utilize photographs to ensure that the jury and insurance adjuster realize the serious impact these injuries had on your life and how painful your recovery from them was.
- Medical procedure videos or photographs – Any invasive treatment that was required to treat your injuries is important to this aspect of your damages. Often, a doctor will be able to walk the jury through any surgical procedure with an illustrative diagram or video playing so that the true nature of what you went through is understood by the jury.
- Testimony of friends, family, or coworkers – Your personal injury attorney will often request that some before and after witnesses testify or provide affidavits for them to use to strengthen this part of your case. Allowing the jury or insurance adjuster to hear the direct changes that those people in your life noticed following your injuries can be compelling.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and your personal injury lawyer will be in the best position to determine what evidence will best support pain and suffering damages in your case. If you have been injured in a car accident and have questions about pain and suffering damages, call an experienced car accident lawyer today!