What are Special Damages or Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

Compensatory Damages

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The purpose of filing a personal injury claim after an
accident is to seek money to compensate you for your losses. These compensatory
damages can be for general or specific purposes.

Let’s take a look at the types of damages and some examples of each.

What are general damages?

General damages are a natural result of the wrongful action(s) committed by the defendant. One can draw a clear link between the behavior of the defendant and the injury the plaintiff suffered. In most cases, the defendant’s ability to anticipate the injury or its severity does not prevent the plaintiff from being fully compensated for the damages incurred.

Using a car accident as an example, imagine Jim was at fault for a minor accident with John. John has a rare degenerative bone condition that makes any injuries he sustains to be much more serious in nature than the average person would experience in the same situation. Jim is liable for all of John’s general damages, even though a person without that condition would likely not have suffered the same severity of injury.

Some types of general damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement or impairment
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Lower quality or loss of enjoyment of life

Calculating general compensatory damages can be difficult, as it often involves assigning a dollar figure to an injury that could be subjective in terms of its severity. Courts and juries must analyze the state of each victim separately.

What are special damages?

Special damages also offer an injured person financial compensation, but for specific losses stemming from the defendant’s actions. These damages, also known as economic damages, are out-of-pocket expenses that come from adding up all the quantifiable losses the defendant sustained.

Some types of special damages include:

  • Repair or replacement of damaged property (such as a vehicle in an auto accident)
  • Lost wages and lost future earning capacity
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Loss of items

Special damages in New York are much easier to calculate than general damages, as they generally deal with exact dollar values. You will likely have bills and receipts on hand to provide evidence of those expenses.

You may seek both general and special damages in your injury claim. Serious injuries are often accompanied by physical pain and suffering and emotional anguish, so you can seek compensation for those damages, on top of any special damages you incurred.

For more information on this and other issues related to your personal injury claim, contact a skilled New York attorney with Robinson & Yablon, P.C.

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