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Legal Definition of Damages

A personal injury lawsuit enables you to seek compensation for damages you’ve suffered due to someone’s negligence, but what are “damages?”

Damages are the financial losses that you are attempting to recover through a lawsuit. The placement of a monetary value on the victim’s injuries attempts to restore the victim’s financial, physical, and emotional well-being. Damages are awarded either by mutual agreement, by the jury, or the court in order to allow victims to return to the position they would have been in had they not been injured in the first place.

Legal Definition of Damages
Legal Definition of “Damages”

There are several different types of damages that may be involved, depending on the type of case as well as the type and extent of the resulting injuries. While many people are somewhat familiar with compensatory and punitive damages, a comprehensive explanation is instructive.

Compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages can be thought of as all losses you’ve incurred resulting from the injury. There are two categories of compensatory damages. Special and general.

Special Damages – often referred to as “economic damages”

Special damages compensate the victim for actual economic losses. These can include things such as:

  • Medical Expenses – When you attempt to collect damages for medical expenses, it’s important to include not only the costs of current medical treatment but also any potential costs for future rehabilitation and medical care. If necessary, your lawyer can hire an expert witness to calculate the future costs by estimating how much the cost of future care might be for the patient’s life expectancy or the anticipated term of necessary care.
  • Monetary Implications of Living with a Disability – Sometimes the extent of a disability can cause the victim to make significant changes to his or her lifestyle. Those costs could entail things such as remodeling a house to accommodate a disability (adding an elevator, installing cabinets that are accessible from a wheelchair, etc). This can also include costs associated with making these changes, or even the costs of in-home care by a nurse or other medical assistance.
  • Loss of Income – Victims are allowed to seek compensation for any wages lost while recovering from an injury. This can also cover compensation for any loss of earning potential the victim now faces due to the injury.
  • Property Damage
  • Funeral Expenses

General damages – often referred to as “non-economic damages”

General damages are losses that do not involve verifiable monetary losses. It can be difficult to assign a value to non-economic damages as these awards can vary significantly. Some of the non-economic awards to which a victim might be entitled include:

Punitive damages.

Also sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the defendant for the injuries they caused and to show others what can happen if they engage in similar types of behavior. The victim may be able to collect punitive damages when the conduct of the defendant is considered egregiously insidious, intentional, habitual, or reckless. Few personal injury cases result in punitive damage awards, and there may need to be a compensatory award before the court or jury can consider a punitive damage award.

Property damages.

Property damages are expenses related to the loss or destruction of private property through negligence. This can include damage to things such as motor vehicles, fences, homes, trees, etc. Insurance policies cover both property damage claims (PD) and bodily injury (BI) at different coverage amounts.

The importance of an attorney.

We provide this information in an effort to better-educate our potential clients, as we feel that it’s important for everyone to understand as much about the claims process as possible. However, knowing the types of damages one can recover in a personal injury lawsuit is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a claim or lawsuit. Proving those damages and compelling the other side to pay (either through negotiation or litigation) is a world unto its own.
If you would like to consult with our firm about your potential personal injury case for free, call us 24 hours a day (toll-free) at 1-877-405-4313. If we feel that we can help, we’ll take your case on contingency – meaning that you don’t pay us a dime unless we’re successful at recovering compensation for you.

Speak With a Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer For Free

The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak to you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we’ll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 651-6100, or toll-free at 1-877-405-4313.

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