Types of Personal Injury Damages

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Being injured as a result of another’s negligence often comes with a large price tag. In addition to healing from both mental and physical injuries, a victim often misses out on work, family events, and the things they enjoy. When a plaintiff prevails in a civil action for personal injuries, they are typically entitled to recover damages. The exact amount of a personal injury damage award is determined by a jury on a case-by-case basis.

Personal injury damages are monetary awards injured people may receive as compensation for harm caused by another party. Plaintiffs may receive personal injury damage awards for physical and emotional harm, as well as property damage that occurred due to an accident or incident that was someone else’s fault.

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in an accident and suffered financial loss, a trusted personal injury lawyer at Duque Law Group can help calculate personal injury damages as well as the most accurate estimate of what to expect.

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law is designed to compensate people who have been harmed because of other people’s actions. Examples of typical personal injury claims include:

  • Car Accidents: Car accidents account for the majority of personal injury claims and lawsuits in the United States. Car accidents typically result from a driver who is not following the rules of the road. In most states, the driver who is at fault for the accident is responsible for paying for injuries and losses caused by the accident, although most car accident claims are settled through the insurance claim process.
  • Premises Liability Cases: Another common type of personal injury case is a “premises liability” case, sometimes called a “slip and fall” case. Property owners have a legal duty to keep their businesses and homes safe. If someone is injured because the property is unsafe, the injured person can sue the property owner for damages.
  • Product Liability: People who are injured by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product can sue the manufacturer and seller of the product in a product liability claim. Some product liability cases are mass torts involving hundreds of thousands of injured plaintiffs.


  • Intentional Torts: Most personal injury claims involve accidents, but you can sue someone who intentionally harms you. For example, if someone assaults you, the person who assaulted you can be criminally prosecuted for the assault and you can sue that person in civil court for damages.

Other examples of personal injury cases include medical malpractice, dog bite injury, defamation, wrongful death, and child sexual abuse lawsuits.


Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case

The two primary categories of damages awarded in personal injury claims are compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages refer to the money you will receive as compensation for an injury or accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Even if they did not intend to harm you, their actions or inactions resulted in your harm and they still have to pay. By placing a dollar amount on the victim’s injuries, compensatory damages seek to restore the victim financially, physically and emotionally. Compensatory damages may be divided into two categories: damages that compensate victims for monetary losses (also known as special damages), and damages that compensate victims for non-monetary losses (also known as general damages).

To prove that a plaintiff owes you these damages you must demonstrate that:

  • They breached their duty of care toward you
  • This breach of duty caused your injury or illness
  • As a result, you have economic and non-economic damages


Monetary Losses

Compensatory damages for monetary losses include:

  • Medical Expenses. Damages for medical expenses may include the costs of both past and future medical care and rehabilitation. Future costs are calculated by estimating the patient’s medical needs for the rest of his or her life expectancy.
  • Costs of Living with a Disability. An injury may result in a disability that requires a victim to significantly alter his or her lifestyle. Compensatory damages may cover the costs associated with this change. These types of damages could include such things as the costs of renovating a house to make it wheelchair-accessible, or the costs of in-home nursing care.
  • Lost Wages. When accident injuries put you out of work for days, weeks, or even months, lost wages refer to the money you would have earned from the time of the accident to the date of your settlement. A type of special compensatory damages, lost wages amount to the money you should have earned had you not been injured. Lost wages are calculated using the amount of money your employer pays you for your work, such as a company paycheck or direct deposit paid to you by your employer on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. However, lost wages are far from just what’s listed on your paycheck. A variety of damages are compensated under lost wages, including:
    • Tips
    • Bonuses
    • Overtime
    • Sick and vacation days
    • Perks, such as gym memberships, use of company-owned vehicles, and so on
  • Repair or Replacement of Property. A victim may recover the costs of property damage suffered in a car accident, or other type of accident. Property is typically valued at its fair market value at the time of the injury.
  • Funeral Expenses. The family of a personal injury victim may recover the costs of any funeral expenses incurred as a result of the injury.

General Compensatory Damages

General damages get their name because they are just that – general. They reimburse a victim for non-monetary damages sustained in a personal injury claim. General damages do not focus on the specific injury or medical bill incurred, and rather focus on the suffering that is generally sustained from an injury. These are for less-tangible, subjective costs that do not have a specific monetary value.

Examples include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional anguish and distress, including depression, anger, anxiety, and sleep issues
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of reputation
  • Humiliation
  • Psychological trauma
  • Permanent disability, including loss of bodily function, vision, or hearing
  • Physical disfigurement or scarring


Special Compensatory Damages

Special damages compensate a victim for monetary expenses acquired due to an injury. These types of damages are more commonly referred to as economic damages, as they typically equate to an actual dollar amount. Special damages vary significantly from one case to another as they are unique to each individual.

The purpose of special damages is to reimburse a victim for all money lost due to the accident that caused their injuries. These are economic damages for specific monetary losses and costs due to the accident. Examples of special damages are:

  • Medical, ambulance, medication, and rehabilitative expenses
  • Expected future medical expenses
  • Lost wages from being unable to work, and expected future lost wages
  • Property damage costs, such as to repair or replace a damaged vehicle
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Mileage costs for traveling to doctor’s appointments if you have to seek treatment far from your home
  • Rental car fees during the time your vehicle is being repaired

If you suffered other financial setbacks, we can collect receipts, invoices, or other financial documents to prove their value and calculate them into the total compensation award we demand.

Punitive Damages

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages punish a defendant for willful, malicious, or fraudulent actions that harmed another party. The purpose of this type of damage is to:

  • Dissuade the defendant from engaging in that behavior again
  • Make an example of the defendant to discourage others from engaging in that behavior

Not every lawsuit warrants punitive damages. In order to avoid excessive punitive damage awards, courts typically limit punitive damages to less than ten times the amount of compensatory damages.

Examples of when a plaintiff typically seeks punitive damages include:

  • Health risks linked to prescription drugs
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice

Caps on Personal Injury Damages

Caps are limitations placed on the potential damages a victim may receive. Special compensatory damages, such as hospital bills and rehabilitative therapy costs, have no caps in place. The jury is usually responsible for determining the amount of damages to award in a personal injury case; however, many states have laws that limit the amount of damages so that even if a jury awards a higher verdict, the verdict will be reduced to adhere to the limit rule.

Each state can establish its own damage cap, but there is also a federal cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.


Should You Speak with an Attorney?

Pain may not come with a price tag, but damages do. If you or someone you love has recently been injured, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Duque Law Group today to discuss the individual facts of your injury claim today at 1-877-241-9554. A free consultation is just a phone call away.

Our legal team at Duque Law Group is comprised of award-winning and nationally recognized trial lawyers who collaborate with nurses, doctors and medical experts regularly. Though we understand the nature of injuries, we are not physicians, and always encourage victims to seek treatment as soon after an accident as possible, and to follow up and heed their doctors’ advice.


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