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Date Modified: September 9, 2023

Special damages are damages that can be objectively measured. These damages are usually calculated with certainty. Some examples include out-of-pocket, lost wages, medical bills, etc. Two main types of compensatory damages are awarded in a civil case: special and general damages. When a party suffers injuries, the law allows them the right to recover monetary compensation for their loss. Damages or compensatory damages arise when a party breaches their duty of care towards another.

  • Video Transcript - What are ‘Special Damages’ in a Civil Claim?

    Video Transcript - What are ‘Special Damages’ in a Civil Claim?

    "0:00 what are special damages in a civil

    0:02 claim? Special damages usually are

    0:05 economic damages in the tort context.

    0:09 Special damages would be your economic

    0:12 loss lost wages loss of use of property

    0:17 would be an economic loss it could

    0:21 include your medical bills hospital

    0:23 bills ambulance bills the cost of

    0:26 ordering a police report. The cost of

    0:27 repairing your car these are all

    0:29 economic damages special damages. [Music]"

Before pursuing any legal action, injured victims often have questions about the damages they can recover. Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys have recovered more than $150 million in compensatory damages for our injured clients. Contact us to learn more about your rights as an injured victim.

Types of Personal Injury Cases Where You Can Recover Damages

Any incident where a person suffers injuries due to another’s negligence creates grounds for a personal injury claim or a lawsuit.

The following are some examples of the types of accidents in the United States you can recover compensation for:

  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accident
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Slip and fall.

What Are ‘Special Damages’ in a Civil Claim?

Also commonly known as economic damages, special damages in a personal injury case is monetary relief for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the defendant’s negligence. When compared to general damages, special damages are much easier to calculate and assign an exact dollar amount. Injuries in an accident can cause a dent in the victim’s finances. Special damages aim to re-correct the victim’s financial position to the state it was in before the accident. Special damages are unique as no other person may have similar financial losses from an accident.

Types of Special Damages

When filing personal injury claims or pursuing personal injury lawsuits, victims must define all the special damages they seek to recover from the at-fault party.

Some common types of special damages include current and future lost wages, current and future medical expenses, personal care costs, other medical expenses, property damages (replacement or repair), and funeral costs.

Calculating Special Damages

Calculating special damages is relatively easy as it is the amount the plaintiff has paid or lost due to their injuries. The victims must keep all their medical bills, receipts, and other documents to calculate special damages.

  • Out-of-pocket expenses: You may have paid out-of-pocket expenses after an injury, including crutches, braces, transportation costs, prescription medications, adjustments to your home, and other relevant costs.
  • Medical payments: Considered the most significant portion of a personal injury claim, medical expenses include all the costs incurred from the medical treatment and any future medical care costs.
  • Lost income: At times, an injury may be so severe that it can put an individual out of work, resulting in lost income. To calculate lost wages, you must add your daily wages from the day of your accident to when you return to work. These can also include lost earning capacity and lost opportunity.

What Are General Damages?

Besides economic damages, victims may also recover general damages, commonly referred to as non-economic damages, in a personal injury claim. It is challenging to calculate general damages as these types of damages are subjective and do not have a dollar value assigned to them. Insurance companies use a few methods to help assess the general damages incurred in a personal injury case.

Types of General Damages

In a personal injury case, you may be able to recover the following types of general damages:

  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Lost enjoyment.

In wrongful death cases, you may be able to recover loss of companionship as well. However, every case is unique, and speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial to help assess your damages.

Calculating General Damages

Calculating general damages means assigning a dollar amount to a subjective injury. The main challenge with calculating general damages is assessing or putting a value on something subjective.

Mental anguish can vary from one plaintiff to the other. The factors that can affect how much you receive for your pain and suffering or other general damages include the severity of the injury, your attorney’s experience, and the jury. When offering a personal injury settlement, an insurance company uses the “multiplier method” to calculate your damages. They multiply your economic damages by a factor between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injuries.

An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to get a fair settlement by referring to previous larger awards for similar personal injury cases. It can help influence the jury in offering a higher compensation for general damages. The facts surrounding your case are crucial, and your attorney can help highlight evidence that can result in higher compensation.

Evaluating Settlement Offers

An injured person can pursue personal injury damages through a personal injury claim and settle the case with the at-fault party. However, if there is a disagreement over the settlement, the injured party may decide to go ahead with a personal injury lawsuit and take the case to court.

Most personal injury claims result in a settlement, and if your case leads to a settlement offer, you must discuss it with your attorney. Your lawyer would be better able to guide you on whether you should accept the offer or pursue a personal injury lawsuit and take the case to trial.

The Court May Award Punitive Damages

When taking a case to trial, the court may award another kind of damages, typically rare, known as punitive damages. The court awards these damages to punish the defendant who may have intentionally caused harm or acted grossly negligently. Punitive damages are typically awarded for condoning the defendant’s actions and deterring others from carrying out similar acts.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

If you suffered injuries in an accident that was not your fault, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may qualify for compensation. Our attorneys will help assess your case, calculate the damages, and handle the claims process on your behalf. Let us represent you and fight for maximum compensation.

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.
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Michael Ehline

Top Injury lawyer, Michael Ehline, Esq.
We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.