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Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit


  • Personal injury lawsuits seek compensation for various types of damages caused as a result of another party’s negligent behavior.
  • These damages can be economic or non-economic, ranging from medical bills to emotional suffering.
  • If the negligence involved in the personal injury is severe enough, a court may add punitive damages on top of the compensation.
  • A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate your case and recover fair compensation.

A serious accident or injury can impact your life in many ways, from the physical to the financial. The recovery process can be long, stressful, and expensive, and you may struggle to stay afloat in the aftermath of your injury. It is common for accident survivors to sustain multiple types of damages.

A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover compensation with the help of an experienced lawyer. The team at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is ready to protect your rights and seek fair compensation. Give us a call at (800) 320-4357 or  contact us online.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Offer Compensation For Multiple Types of Damages

If you have suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligent actions, you can recover compensation for this harm (known as damages) through a personal injury lawsuit. It is important to understand this concept, as it is one of the most common personal injury terms your attorney will use.

Your damages or harm can take the form of a physical injury, mental injury, or property damage. Whether it’s a reckless driver causing a car accident or a negligent property owner failing to maintain safe premises, the injured party has the right to seek compensation for their losses–usually with the help of a personal injury lawyer.

What is Negligence?

According to Cornell Law School, negligence is defined as the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances, either through their actions or their failure to act.

There are four basic criteria for establishing negligence:

  • The at-fault party had a legal duty to act with care (for example, a driver is legally required to drive their vehicle responsibly)
  • The at-fault party failed to act with care
  • You have suffered harm
  • The harm you suffered was caused by the at-fault party

In most instances, plaintiffs need to prove negligence for their personal injury claim to be successful. This is a key distinction between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims, which don’t require either party to accept fault.

Types of Damages

The damages available in personal injury lawsuits can be broken into two broad categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse victims of negligent actions for their losses.

This category can be further divided into special damages and general damages.

Special Damages

Arguably, the most important type of damages are special damages, sometimes called actual damages. They are based on actual, measurable expenses the victim has incurred due to their personal injury. Special damages include quantifiable financial losses such as:

  • Medical bills, including the cost of hospitalization, medication, physical therapy, and any other medical expenses necessary to treat the injury
  • Lost wages as a result of being unable to work after the injury
  • Property damage caused by the at-fault party

Any expense related to the personal injury qualifies for compensation as special damages, even the less obvious expenses. For instance, the cost of in-home assistance while you recover from a Traumatic Brain Injury, or the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop.

General Damages

In a personal injury lawsuit, general damages, unlike special damages, are more subjective and aim to compensate for non-monetary losses. General damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering: the physical pain caused by the injury
  • Loss of enjoyment: a diminished ability to participate in activities that previously brought enjoyment
  • Loss of consortium: damage caused to the relationship between spouses as a result of the injury
  • Scarring and disfigurement: visible scars or permanent physical alterations left by the injury
  • Emotional distress: the psychological trauma and mental anguish caused by the injury

It can be challenging to quantify general damages since they don’t have specific price tags already attached to them. To get around this, personal injury attorneys will often use the multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages, multiplying your special damages by a certain number. The multiplier is often based on previous cases and weighted to the severity of the injury and traumatic events.

Wrongful Death Claims Provide Additional Types of Damages For Survivors

In cases where negligence results in a death, surviving family members may pursue wrongful death damages. These damages aim to compensate for the financial and emotional losses suffered due to the untimely death of their loved one. Damages may include loss of parental instruction and guidance, funeral expenses, and other costs unique to wrongful death claims.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are awarded to punish the negligent party for their egregious behavior. While compensatory damages focus on compensating the victim, punitive damages serve as a deterrent to prevent similar misconduct in the future. Courts are most likely to award punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence, intentional harm, or reckless disregard for safety.

Punitive damages are most often levied against large corporations, like in cases involving defective products. For example, we might see punitive damages in mass tort cases like the Bard PowerPort lawsuits. However, individuals may sometimes have to pay punitive damages as well if they’re engaged in serious negligent behavior like drunk driving.

Get In Touch With the Personal Injury Lawyers of WHG to Discuss the Types of Damages That Apply to Your Case

Navigating the complexities of a personal injury claim can be daunting, especially when dealing with insurance companies and legal proceedings. A skilled personal injury lawyer can offer their clients expert insight throughout the process by:

  • Identifying the appropriate damages to seek based on the specifics of your case
  • Gathering and preserving crucial evidence to support your claim
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement
  • Representing you in court if necessary

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia are here to help. We believe that you deserve fair compensation for all of the types of damages you have suffered, whether you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, as a result of medical malpractice, in a motor vehicle accident, or by another form of reckless behavior.

Our team will unapologetically fight for your rights as we have done for numerous clients over the years. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help. To get started, contact us online or call us at (800) 320-4357.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?

It depends on what type of personal injury lawsuit you are filing and what state you are planning to file in. For example, if you wanted to file a car accident claim in Florida or another claim based on the actions of a negligent motorist, you have two years from the date you were injured. Other types of personal injury claims, like sexual abuse lawsuits, may have different time constraints.

Will I have to go to court for my personal injury case?

Many times, attorneys resolve personal injury cases through out-of-court settlements. However, if your lawyer and the attorney for the defendant can’t reach a fair settlement, your case may proceed to trial. Your lawyer will advocate for your rights and represent your interests in court if necessary.

How much compensation can I expect for my injuries?

The amount of compensation you may receive depends on various factors, including the severity of your injuries, the extent of your financial losses, and the available insurance coverage. A personal injury lawyer can assess your case, determine what types of damages apply, and provide a realistic settlement estimate.

No Win, No Fee Commitment

Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is committed to helping you rebuild your life after a hardship. We are not just your legal team—we are your allies, your partners, and your advocates. We will do everything we can to handle your case with compassion and care, and to get you the results you need!

“And for every fight we take on, know this…we are doing everything we can to make sure we win!”

— Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia

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About the Author

Adam Werner is a partner and practicing attorney at WHG. He specializes in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims, and veteran disability benefits. He routinely writes about personal injury and workers comp topics for the Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia blog

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