After a car accident, you can take legal action to hold the party responsible for the crash accountable. In many cases, you and your attorney will be able to secure a settlement without having to go through a trial through negotiation. In other cases, the award of damages will be left up to the courts.
In either scenario, you could be in a position to collect compensation. There are a few different categories of damages including special, general and punitive damages. Knowing the differences between these damages can help you assess your situation and know what you may be able to expect if you move forward with a personal injury claim.
- Special damages: Generally speaking, these include any damages that you may have a receipt for or financial proof of loss. Essential, they are the economic consequences suffered as a result of your accident. This would include current and future medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of making changes to your home to accommodate any physical limitations you now experience and any other type of monetary loss.
- General damages: These damages are much more difficult to calculate than special damages, but they are just as important to recover. General damages include the non-economic losses suffered as a result of an accident. In many cases, victims of accidents seek compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium or support, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life, which are all considered general damages.
- Punitive damages: If the party responsible for your accident and injuries is determined to have been especially malicious, reckless or negligent in causing the accident, the court may award punitive damages. These are available specifically to punish that party for misconduct.
Some, all or none of these damages can be awarded in cases involving car accident injuries, and potential recovery amounts vary from case to case. In order to have some idea of what you may stand to collect, it can be crucial to discuss the details of your accident with an attorney.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Economic Recovery for Accidents and Injuries," accessed on Dec. 9, 2015