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What Types of Damages Can You Get in a Personal Injury Case?

Power Trial Lawyers Team

Unintentional injury is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, with a reported 35 million people having sought medical care at an emergency room for injury related visits within the past year. While it’s understandable that accidents happen, if you are injured due to the negligence of another person or business, it’s important to have vital information that may determine whether a verdict or settlement will be reached in your favor.  Personal injury cases are complex and have a wide range of factors which contribute to the compensation someone may receive.

Paramedics helping injured man

Depending on the injury, the long-term effects of your injuries may need to be factored into the equation. The first step is knowledge of the different types of damages involved in a personal injury case in California. Contingent on the specifics, you may be due general, special, and/or punitive damages.

We will review each of these types of damages and the factors which go into determining the potential value and strength of a personal injury case below in this blog.

Different Types of Damages

There are a few various types of damages that can be sought by those who are injured, sometimes referred to as “plaintiffs” or “claimants”.  Each type of damage presents it’s own unique challenges and potential monetary value. When determining the strength of a personal injury case, it’s a good idea to understand all possible courses of action to remedy the events that have occurred.

There are three types of damage categories: General, Special, and Punitive damages.


General damages compensate for non-financial aspects which range from emotional distress, to physical pain, and include other non-economic concerns. While all these can affect finances or the ability to seek out future work, they are more general.  Examples of common claims include:

  • Lower Quality of Life – Some injuries may leave a person unable to enjoy life as well as they did before the accident occurred. Commonly, those who have undergone amputation or experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are awarded these damages to make up for the decrease in quality of life.
  • Pain and Suffering – Long and short-term physical pain from an injury can be debilitating. Sometimes the pain can prevent the ability to seek out work or fulfill financial duties. The suffering may also lead to failing personal relationships or make other aspects of personal life more difficult.
  • Loss of Companionship – This is typically awarded to the loved ones of those who have passed as a result of a horrible accident. The purpose is to compensate for the emotional loss endured by the companion.

General damages are often considered more confusing than Special damages. They typically involve personal considerations and emotional understanding. Many times, courts have to ask tough questions with unclear answers.

Questions, like:

How do you compensate someone for the fact that they can no longer walk?

How about someone who broke their back and now lives with constant pain?

Major injuries can result in sweeping lifestyle changes that are hard to quantify in a monetary figure.  If you or a loved one finds themselves in a situation like this, the personal injury attorneys at Power Trial Lawyers have helped many others just like you seek compensation for their injuries.

Special Compensatory Damages

Special compensatory damages are much easier to understand. These consist of bills incurred as a result of the injury or accident. Since special compensatory damages often involve calculatable numbers, the case for this type of damage is much simpler.

Some examples of compensatory damages include:

  • Medical Expenses – This can include both past and future medical expenses. Medical expenses can stack up and loom over the heads of personal injury victims quickly. The law grants the right to claim damages for the “reasonable cost” of “reasonably necessary” medical care.
  • Loss of Earnings – Personal injuries can often land victims in the hospital and out of work. If you are missing out on work because of an injury, you have the right to claim damages for that loss of income. Claimable items include wages, commissions, bonuses, and other financial benefits. Anything that is normally afforded to you through the work you are missing may be potentially recoverable. Similar to medical expenses, this can include past and future earnings that are being missed out on.
  • Inability to Work – Intended mostly for those who may have had a promising career in an industry that they can no longer work in. For instance, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may make a career in accounting or rocket science difficult and thus a person is entitled to compensation. They may find themselves having to start over in a new career or settle for a lower-paying job. If a personal injury has caused you to have to step out of your field of expertise, there may be a claim to make.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses – Anything paid for out-of-pocket as a direct result of the injury or accident could be eligible and recoverable.
  • Loss of irreplaceable items – Some items are not replaceable and may hold sentimental or emotional value, such as family heirlooms or personal items.  In these cases, claimants are often entitled to extra compensation beyond the fair market value of the item(s).
  • Damage of property – The cost to repair or replace damaged pieces of property from an accident.

Injuries are painful enough, there’s no reason to also take on the financial hardship that may come along with those injuries. Special compensatory damages often have a great deal of evidence which creates a strong case and a strong likelihood of success. As a result, if you are ever involved in a personal injury case, make sure you save all bills and any documentation associated with the expenses so you have those to share with your personal injury attorney.


Punitive damages are a penalty assessed to the party responsible for the accident. As a result, these damages don’t have to correlate with the costs of your injury. Courts often grant these amounts when they don’t believe the other damages granted in the case are enough to punish the guilty party or deter others from being negligent.

The likelihood of this happening increases in instances of maliciousness, negligence, and malfeasance.

Instances, where plaintiffs are the victim of criminal acts and high-profile cases are also prone to receive these damages as part of the settlement or judgment. This is a tool that the courts can use to tilt the scales when a normal judgment doesn’t seem to balance them.

Calculation of Compensation

Two main things are weighed in determining the amount of compensation you are due. These two factors are:

Severity of Injuries

The more severe your injuries, the more money you are likely due and will be compensated.  In extreme circumstances, injuries may carry lengthy or lifelong consequences and it only makes sense that compensation should reflect that fact.

Strength of Evidence

Direct evidence of malfeasance or negligence will go a long way in securing your case. The more evidence that points towards guilt of the other party, the more likely you are to receive an offer for a large settlement. In instances where you don’t take a settlement, there is also a better chance for punitive damages.

How to Claim Compensation & Get Paid

Regardless of which form of damages you are seeking, the first step for any victim or their family is finding legal representation. Finding a personal injury attorney is a critical first step toward preparing a winning case. With so many options and conflicting information online, it can be hard to choose which attorney and law firm is the right for you.

When it comes to personal injury cases, the trial attorneys and muti-lingual support staff at Power Trial Lawyers is standing by ready and willing to help you sort through all the concerns you’re facing in this moment.  At Power Trial Lawyers, the seasoned legal team of professionals will work tirelessly to make sure you receive the compensation you are due. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation by calling (844) 844-POWER.

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Fill out the contact form or call us at (888) 808-2179 to schedule a case evaluation.

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