You can file a personal injury claim if the negligent actions of someone else cause you harm. Although personal injury claims are often the result of a car or truck accident, you can also file them for slips and falls, medical malpractice, dog bites, and much more.
There are three different types of damages for personal injury that you can seek in a personal injury claim: special, general, and exemplary damages. These damages compensate you for injuries and losses that can be physical, emotional, and financial.
By identifying the full extent of your loss, compensation in personal injury claims can return your life to the state it was in before an accident. Working with a lawyer who has extensive knowledge of personal injury law and experience with cases similar to yours is important. Your lawyer can help you determine a settlement amount, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and take your case to trial if the settlement offer does not compensate you for all your losses.
In this article, the personal injury lawyers at Sadaka Law review the different damages you can pursue when filing a personal injury claim. We also discuss factors that can influence your case. If you want to seek damages for a personal injury claim, contact Sadaka Law at 800-810-3457 to learn how our personal injury attorneys can help you build your case.
What Are the Types of Personal Injury Claims?
You can file a personal injury claim when you are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Types of personal injury cases include:
For any of these personal injury claims, there are three different types of damages the law allows you to seek from the negligent party.
Special damages or economic damages compensate you for a direct monetary loss.
After an accident, special damages for personal injury claims can compensate you for:
- Medical care: Special damages compensate you for medical bills, emergency services, and rehabilitative expenses. Medical care also includes medication you take as a result of an injury and any future medical expenses that you may incur.
- Lost wages: Lost wages include any income you may lose or have already lost because of your inability to perform your job duties due to an injury from an accident.
- Property damage: Property damages cover the expense of fixing or replacing any damage to your property due to an accident. This can include but is not limited to, damage to your car, home, and more.
- Funeral costs: If the negligence of someone else causes the death of someone involved in the accident, families can pursue compensation for funeral costs.
- Transportation: Transportation damages cover any expenses you incur from driving an extended distance to attend a doctor or lawyer appointment due to your injuries.
- Household maintenance: If you cannot upkeep your home and perform necessary household duties while recovering from injuries, special damages can cover any services you pay to maintain your household.
- Personal care: If you’re no longer able to care for yourself due to an accident, you can seek compensation that covers in-home care until you recover. This can also cover any long-term care you may need.
- Rental Car: If a negligent party damages your car in an accident, special damages cover the fees of renting a vehicle as you repair your car.
- Loss of heirlooms: If the negligence of someone else destroys an irreplaceable item or heirloom, you can qualify for compensation.
- Loss of earning capacity: If an accident causes an injury that severely changes your ability to work and earn income, special damages can cover this long-term financial loss.
The fair market value of each expense or loss at the time of the injury is the basis for determining the monetary value of special damages. Your lawyer can help you provide evidence of your financial loss to prove the value of your claim. This includes financial documents like receipts and invoices reflecting expenses incurred.
In general, special or economic damages cover any out-of-pocket expense you incur because of an injury that was someone else’s fault. Special damages can vary, so consult your lawyer about the special damages you can pursue for your case and how much you can seek for each type of special damages.
Unlike special damages, general damages or noneconomic damages for personal injury cases do not represent a direct monetary value. Noneconomic damages are often harder to prove. Some examples of general damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of marital relations (loss of consortium)
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement or dismemberment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of reputation
- Permanent disability
- Physical disfigurement or scarring
The extent to which these types of damages cause loss is highly subjective. However, courts and insurance companies recognize that these damages can detrimentally affect your life. This is why insurance companies and courts pay out general damages in personal injury claims.
Noneconomic damages can be challenging to prove. Many insurance companies are more critical about paying these damages. When filing general damages, work with the attorneys at Sadaka Law to ensure you build a strong case proving the accident caused noneconomic losses.
Damages Exemplary or Punitive Damages
Both special and general damages are specific to compensating the injured person. Exemplary or punitive damages, however, are about punishing the person who caused the injury.
Punitive damages are not common in personal injury lawsuits. Judges award them to a victim when the harming party has shown extreme negligence.
These damages dissuade the person and others from ever repeating the action. Punitive damages may also apply in cases involving intentional misconduct or for behavior that caused massive financial loss. The amount of punitive damages is up to the court and has no limit.
Damages for Wrongful Death Claims
If the negligent actions of someone cause the death of a family member, you can pursue a wrongful death claim. Only the direct survivor of the victim in the accident can file this claim. The parameters for verifying a survivor differ in each state, so work with a lawyer in your area who can help you determine the right person to file the claim.
Wrongful death claims cover a mix of special and general damages. A wrongful death settlement can cover not only funeral expenses but also the emotional distress of the family.
Wrongful death claims also allow family members to pursue special or general damages for which the victim would have qualified for compensation had they not died. This can include:
- Medical treatment or care before their passing
- Loss of income they may have brought into the household had the injury not occurred or had they lived
- Pain and suffering the victim may have experienced before their passing
Wrongful death claims cannot bring loved ones back. Instead, they strive to provide financial compensation that alleviates some of the burden of losing loved ones.
The Role of Medical Records in Personal Injury Cases
The goal of your personal injury claim is to seek damages to help you recover financially after an accident. Your lawyer can help you gather medical records that prove you did not have an injury before the accident, the accident caused your injury, and your injury led to expenses and a loss of earning capacity.
For example, if you are pursuing special damages to reimburse you for medical care, providing medical records is essential. Medical records from a medical professional can show a direct change in your health after an accident. It can establish a causal relationship and strengthen your case to help you win fair compensation.
If you are pursuing general damages for emotional distress, medical records from a therapist can be helpful. They can highlight the decline of your mental health after the date of the accident.
In personal injury cases, the more evidence or medical records you have to support your claim, the stronger your chances are of earning compensatory damages.
Personal Injury Claim vs. Lawsuit
There is a difference between a personal injury claim and a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury claim is the first step in pursuing compensatory damages for a personal injury.
Depending on the injury, you’ll file a claim with your insurance company or the insurance company of the negligent person. In a personal injury claim, you are not filing anything with the courts.
After unsuccessful attempts to come to a settlement with the insurance company, your attorney can file a lawsuit with the courts. In a personal injury lawsuit, you sue the at-fault party and let the judge or jury decide on your compensation amount.
Legal Caps on Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Many factors affect the compensation you can recover for damages in personal injury cases. But is there a legal cap on the damages you can pursue? It depends on the case.
For example, settlement payments from insurance companies are payable up to their policy limits. If your damages exceed their limits, you must make it against the negligent party as a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits have no limit or legal cap to the amount of special and general damages you can pursue. The only exception to this rule is medical malpractice cases, which carry a $500,000 cap.
When determining your settlement, you’ll also want to consider the statute of limitations on your personal injury case. Every state sets a specific limit on how long an individual has to file a claim or lawsuit. If you need to file a personal injury case, speak with your attorney as soon as possible to determine your case, identify your damages, and file your claim or lawsuit.
Legal Assistance in Calculating Personal Injury Damages
Calculating personal injury damages is complex and unique to every case. Whether pursuing special or general damages, an understanding of the damages you’re entitled to is imperative. Otherwise, you may risk not collecting adequate compensation for your injuries and losses.
By working alongside a legal team with experience, you have a better chance of calculating an accurate settlement value. At Sadaka Law, our attorneys have extensive experience calculating damages for personal injury cases.
In reviewing your case, medical records, and other documentation, we create a settlement proposal that compensates you for current and future losses.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury due to the negligence of another person, give Sadaka Law a call. Our attorneys will review your case, inform you of the damages you can pursue, and help you seek compensation. Call us today at 1-800-810-3457 to schedule your consultation.