Types of Damages in PERSONAL INJURY Cases


When you are injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. This compensation, in theory, is intended to make you "whole" again. Meaning, where you would have been had your injury never occurred, to the extent that a monetary award can achieve that goal.


These compensations, legally known as damages, can be categorized into several types. Here’s an overview of the types of damages that may be available in a personal injury case:


Economic Damages


These are the quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury. They include:


  • Medical Expenses: This is often the bulk of economic damages and can include past and future medical costs resulting from your injury.
  • Lost Wages: If your injury has caused you to miss work, you can claim the income you would have earned had you not been injured.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: If your injury affects your ability to earn a living in the future, you can claim damages for this loss.
  • Property Damage: If any of your property was damaged as a result of the incident, you can be compensated for repairs or replacement.


Non-Economic Damages


These damages are not easily quantifiable and relate to the impact the injury has had on your life. They include:


  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the pain and discomfort you endured during and after the accident.
  • Emotional Distress: Sometimes called mental anguish, this relates to the psychological impact of your injury, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying daily activities and hobbies you once engaged in, you may be compensated for that loss.
  • Loss of Consortium: This relates to the impact the injuries have on your relationship with your spouse.


Punitive Damages


In cases where the defendant's behavior was particularly egregious or malicious, punitive damages may be awarded. These are not tied to any specific loss you have suffered but are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.


Special Considerations


  • Mitigation of Damages: The law requires injured parties to take reasonable steps to minimize the financial impact of their harm.
  • Comparative Negligence: In some cases, if you are found to be partly at fault for your injuries, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault.


Limitations and Exceptions


  • Damages Caps: Some states have caps on certain types of damages, particularly non-economic and punitive damages.
  • Statute of Limitations: There are time limits within which you must file a lawsuit for your injuries, which vary by state and type of injury.




Each personal injury case is unique, and the types of damages available can vary based on the specifics of the case and the jurisdiction.


For more information concerning personal injury and other types of damages in civil litigation, check out the Self Rep Edge Video Series and Civil Litigation Workbook.