Personal injury cases are all about compensation for damages. The law can’t give an injured claimant a new body part to replace the one that was damaged in an accident, but it can compel financial compensation for the damage. That compensation is in the form of an award for special economic damages and general non-economic damages. Here’s how compensation is determined
The amount of any special damages to be awarded in a case is easily ascertainable. One needs to merely add up all medical bills, lost earnings and out-of-pocket expenses, and the result is the amount of compensation to be sought. Special damages can be claimed for the past or even for the future within a reasonable degree of certainty. With a proper foundation being laid, special damages are routinely entered into evidence in a trial, but they’re subject to cross examination on the issues of necessity and reasonableness.
Non-economic general damages aren’t quantifiable. There are no bills showing amounts due, no bottom lines and no price tags. General damages might consist of considerations like physical and emotional pain and suffering, disfigurement or disability or a diminished quality of life. Like special damages, general damages can be claimed for the past or the future within a reasonable degree of certainty.
Determining General Damages
Since every personal injury claimant is different, injuries suffered by them are different too. That’s why any award of general damages is based on the facts surrounding the case. The law allows consideration of certain factors in determining the amount of any award of general non-economic damages. Those factors include but aren’t limited to the following:
- The nature and extent of the injuries claimed
- The degree of pain suffered
- The type of treatment for the injury and the pain involved in that treatment
- Whether the injury and pain are permanent
- Whether there is any permanent disfigurement or disability
If a case settles, the compensation paid for special and general damages isn’t itemized. If a case goes to trial and an award is made, that award is typically itemized in a verdict form. For example, a line for medical bills will show a specific amount awarded as compensation for them. Each item of general damages will also have a line to show the compensation for it too.
Because of the non-economic damages issue, the value of a personal injury case turns into an estimate rather than a specific amount. After all past and future special damages have been calculated, an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide you with a range of value of your case.