When those who have been
seriously injured win large awards after a jury trial the press typically publishes the
total amount that the plaintiff has been awarded. What usually does not
get covered is what that total amount of money is based on. Whether a
case is resolved by a settlement, after a bench trial, or through a jury
verdict, once it is decided that a plaintiff should be awarded money a
lot of different factors are taken into account to decide how much money
that should be. The money that is awarded in compensation for a loss or
injury is called “damages.” Here we discuss a few of the different
type of damages that can come up in
personal injury cases. There are three main categories: General damages, special damages,
and punitive damages.
What are Special Damages?
Special damages are the least controversial type of damages and are often
the easiest to deal with. Exactly what special damages will be involved
in a case depend on who was injured and how he or she was injured, but
they include things like lost earnings or medical expenses. If a person
is in a car accident and as a result she has $20,000 in medical bills,
and a judge or jury decides that she should be compensated for those bills,
those would be considered special damages. These are typically the easiest
to deal with because a plaintiff can prove an exact amount. For example,
if the car accident caused the woman to miss two weeks of work she can
prove exactly how much pay she lost out on by introducing proof of her pay rate.
What are General Damages?
General damages are a little more complicated. These are damages that are
certainly real, but are harder to quantify. They include things like physical
pain, mental suffering, and lifestyle compromises. Imagine that the woman
in the car accident will now suffer a lifetime of severe knee pain as
a result of the accident. Most people would agree that she deserves to
be compensated for that pain, but there is no simple bill or check stub
she can use to prove how much compensation is appropriate. Similarly,
imagine that this woman had been a passionate runner and that she loved
nothing more than running marathons. Having that taken away from her would
certainly be a loss, but how does one put a price tag on it? In Georgia,
jurors are supposed to apply their common sense, experience, and human
emotions to the facts of the case in determining damages. Because the
jurors are members of the community in which the accident happened, they
are uniquely situated to understand what these sorts of injuries are worth
in this community.
What are Punitive Damages?
The final and most rare type of damages are punitive damages. These damages
are highly regulated by state law. When they can be applied is limited,
as is the total amount that can be ordered. Additionally, these damages
must be proven by a higher degree of proof than other types of damages.
Punitive damages do not compensate an injured person for his or her loss
or injury. Instead they are designed specifically to punish the person
or company at fault for some sort of particularly bad behavior that resulted
in the plaintiff’s injuries.
Contact Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence of another
and you have questions about what kinds of damages you may be entitled
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, PC today for a