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Date Modified: September 9, 2023

General damages traditionally cannot be calculated with certainty. Pain and suffering, emotional distress, or NON-economic losses are examples of general damages.

Parties usually assert that the parties seek recovery for a loss that is not specialized in any manner and that the party has been wronged for of a general sum. Usually, general damages only seek recovery to the extent that the court will allow. When a person suffers injuries due to the negligence of others, they may be able to recover compensatory damages for their loss.

  • Video Transcript - What Are ‘General Damages’ In A Civil Claim?

    Video Transcript - What Are ‘General Damages’ In A Civil Claim?

    "0:00 What are general damages in a civil

    0:02 claim? General damages are damages

    0:06 designed normally to cover for the

    0:10 typical loss of a plaintiff and a

    0:13 personal injury claim. General damages

    0:15 would include past present and future

    0:17 pain and suffering under a contract. The

    0:22 general damage would include the

    0:27 expectancy under the contract of what

    0:29 the plaintiff would have gained under

    0:31 the contract. Usually it would have been

    0:34 the profits, for example under the

    0:36 contract. [Music]"

These include two types of damages: special damages and general damages. In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages to punish the at-fault party for their gross negligence and deter others from committing similar wrongful acts.

Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys have recovered over $150 million in monetary compensation for our injured clients. An accident can adversely affect your life, from medical treatment costs to out-of-pocket expenses and other losses. Worse, it affects you psychologically, which may take years to overcome. Victims must pursue compensatory damages following an accident arising from another’s negligence. Contact our experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your injured victim’s rights.

What Are ‘General Damages’ in a Civil Claim?

Unlike special or economic damages that are directly related to the injured victim’s injuries, general or non-economic damages are those types of recoverable damages arising from subjective or non-monetary losses. It is awarded to the plaintiff for the physical and psychological effects of the accident.

Types of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases

The following are some of the types of general damages that injured victims may recover in a personal injury claim:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental or emotional pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical impairment
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of quality of life.

General damages vary from one personal injury case to the other. Speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney is essential to help determine the general damages that are recoverable in your case. In wrongful death cases, surviving family members can recover loss of consortium, loss of care, and mental anguish, among other non-economic damages.

Types of Personal Injury Cases That Result in Damages

Personal injury victims may be able to recover general damages from any accident arising from another’s negligence.

The following are some of the common types of personal injury cases that result in damages:

  • Car accident
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Slip and fall accident
  • Elder or nursing home abuse.

How to Calculate General Damages for a Personal Injury Claim

When filing a personal injury claim to recover damages, you must be able to calculate the value of the damages that you wish to recover from the negligent party or their insurer. Special damages are easy to calculate because they have a precise economic value. Injured victims can add all the amounts they paid following their injury, including medical bills, lost income, future medical care costs, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses. However, calculating general damages is much more challenging, which is why you must work with an experienced attorney.

You must assign an exact dollar amount to a subjective injury to determine general damages. Every personal injury case is unique, and the plaintiff’s general damages may vary from one case to the other. Insurance companies multiply the special damages or medical expenses by a factor of 1.5 to 5. The factor depends on the severity of the injury, with minor injuries receiving a low multiplier, such as 1.5, and extremely severe injuries receiving a higher multiplier, such as 5. In a trial, several factors can determine the damage award, including the injury’s severity, the skills of the plaintiff’s attorney, and the jury’s sensitivity.

How You Can Prove Non-Economic Damages in Your Personal Injury Case

It is essential to prove your damages when recovering personal injury damages, whether through a personal injury settlement or a lawsuit. You can easily prove special damages in a personal injury case by showing medical bills from your medical treatment and other relevant bills and, for lost wages, your payslips.

However, proving non-economic damages can be challenging. For example, how do you let the other party know the amount of pain and suffering you’re experiencing following your accident? Working with an attorney immediately after your accident can help you collect the evidence you need to prove the general damages. Typically, you may require the following as evidence.

Your Journal

Maintaining a personal journal where you record your feelings, pain and suffering, symptoms, and how the injuries have affected your life is highly recommended. It helps convey your side of the story and illustrate the effect of the accident on various aspects of your life.

Psychological Evaluations

A psychological evaluation suggests the mental and psychological problems an injured victim was experiencing that warranted the need to speak to a therapist. It will help strengthen your personal injury case.

Expert Testimonies

Having psychological experts or therapists testify to the changes you’re experiencing in your life can bolster your case. You can also get recorded testimonies from your family and friends to explain how your life changed following the accident.


Injured victims suffering from physical injuries, such as disfigurement and scarring, can become victims of depression and social distancing. You must take photographs of your injuries to prove your damages.

You must speak to our experienced personal injury attorneys if you suffered injuries in an accident. Our skilled attorneys will help prove the injury’s effect on your quality of life and handle the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation.

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
Animation of injury lawyer, Michael Ehline Animation of injury lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Top Injury lawyer, Michael Ehline, Esq.
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