What Are Special Damages?


What Are Special Damages?

What Are Special Damages?

The most pressing question for almost everyone involved in a personal injury lawsuit is, “How much compensation can I receive for my injuries?” It’s a simple question, but the answer is not as straightforward as it seems. Understanding how much compensation you can claim requires knowing the different kinds of damages and losses you can put a dollar amount on.  

Special damages are concrete and calculable compensatory damages. Whether you suffered injuries in a car accident, a slip and fall, or something else, you likely face medical bills, lost work and wages, and other expenses that you shouldn’t have to bear because of someone else’s negligence.

At Wilshire Law, we are committed to helping our clients recover the most compensation possible. Our highly experienced and top-performing personal injury attorneys work closely with you, so you never have to guess where your case stands or what to expect.

What’s the Difference Between Special Damages and General Damages?

To understand how special damages differ from general damages, we need to give them a little context. 

Both types of damages are a subset of compensatory damages, which encompass the various damages you can claim in a personal injury case. Let’s break them down.

Special Damages

These damages, also called economic damages, are specific, measurable financial losses linked directly to the accident incident. They include:

Medical Bills

  • Emergency Room Visits: Costs from initial emergency care following an accident.
  • Hospital Stays: Charges for any time spent hospitalized due to injuries.
  • Surgeries: Any surgical procedures required to treat injuries.
  • Medication: Prescriptions for pain relief, infection prevention, or other necessary drugs.
  • Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation sessions to regain mobility and strength.
  • Ongoing Treatments: Continuous medical needs such as follow-up visits and long-term care.

Lost Wages

  • Immediate Loss of Income: Earnings missed from work absence right after the incident.
  • Future Loss of Earnings: Expected loss of income due to decreased ability to work or disability.

Property Damage

  • Vehicle Repairs: Costs to fix or replace your car damaged in an accident.
  • Personal Items: Reimbursement for items like phones or clothing that were damaged.

Travel Expenses: Money spent on getting to and from doctor appointments or therapy.

Home Modifications: Costs for adjustments in your living space to aid recovery, such as:

  • Ramps: Installation of wheelchair ramps.
  • Railings: Adding safety railings in bathrooms or staircases.

Care Costs: Expenses for necessary personal assistance, including:

  • Cleaning Services: Help with household chores.
  • Cooking Services: Meal preparation.
  • Nursing Care: Professional home care to manage health needs.

General Damages 

These are sometimes called non-economic damages. These intangible losses are not directly quantifiable in financial terms. They include:

Pain and Suffering: Payment for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced the injury causes.

  • Physical Pain: Compensation for the acute and chronic physical discomfort arising from your injuries.
  • Emotional Distress: Acknowledges the mental and emotional strain caused by the physical injuries, the trauma of the accident, and the ongoing impact on daily living.
  • Severity and Duration: The amount compensated often depends on the severity of the pain and the expected duration of recovery, aiming to offset the day-to-day hardships caused by the injury.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life:

  • Daily Activities: Compensation for the loss of ability to participate in daily activities, including routine tasks that were part of your lifestyle before the injury.
  • Hobbies and Recreation: Addresses the specific inability to engage in hobbies and recreational activities that contribute to one’s happiness and quality of life.
  • Permanent Limitations: Reflects long-term or permanent changes to your lifestyle that prevent you from enjoying previously pleasurable activities.

Emotional Distress:

  • Psychological Impact: Covers conditions like anxiety, depression, sleep loss, fear, and other mental health issues directly related to the incident.
  • Coping and Adjustment: Compensation for the ongoing psychological adjustments required to cope with the new reality post-injury, including therapy and counseling costs.
  • Long-term Effects: Recognizes the potential for long-lasting psychological symptoms, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which might emerge well after the physical injuries have healed.

Loss of Consortium:

  • Spousal Relationship: Compensation for the loss of the benefits of a spousal relationship, including affection, solace, moral support, and sexual relations – the qualities that normally define the relationship between married partners. 
  • Parent-Child Relationship: In cases involving severe injury or death, this can also include the loss of the parent-child relationship, affecting guidance, companionship, and care.

Loss of Companionship:

  • Relationships: Addresses the diminishment of the quality of relationships with close family and friends.
  • Emotional Support: Compensation for the loss of emotional support, fellowship, and companionship that the injured person would normally provide.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are the third kind of damages we sometimes seek for our clients, but only in cases where we have evidence of the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional actions. They punish harmful actions, and they discourage the defendant from repeating such conduct.

For instance, an industrial company that routinely shows a blatant disregard for critical safety measures that put workers at serious risk of serious injury or death could need to pay punitive damages in a personal injury case.

The judge or jury estimates the amount of punitive damages, and the total depends on the severity of the wrongdoing and the defendant’s financial capacity, among other factors.

The court awards punitive damages only in certain cases that merit such a penalty. Your personal injury lawyer evaluates your case and lets you know whether you may pursue punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. 

How Do You Claim Special Damages?

Ensuring you are fully compensated for all your damages after an accident starts with documentation. We will start by building a record of all the financial losses you can directly attribute to the incident. 

special damages in a car accident personal injury lawsuit

Here are some steps you can take to help us calculate your special damages:

  1. Collect All Receipts and Bills: Gather every receipt and bill related to your accident, including medical expenses from trips to the emergency room to ongoing treatments and receipts for any repairs to property damaged in the incident. Banking statements can help you trace expenses and fill in any gaps. 
  2. Document Lost Income: If you missed work because of your injury, keep a detailed record of the lost time and income. Pay stubs and tax returns that show what you would have earned if you could work. These records will help us estimate how much your accident costs you in lost future income if you cannot work because of your injuries.
  3. Keep a Detailed Log: Keep a thorough record of all related expenses. It should include dates, a description of each expense, and how it is related to the accident. Track travel costs to medical appointments and any modifications you made to your home to make it accessible to you after your injury.
  4. Organize Your Documents: Keeping your documents organized will expedite the claims process. The ability to quickly access necessary information is a valuable asset. Use folders or digital files to keep everything categorized and easy to review.

These records provide us with a clear and detailed picture of your financial losses. Our goal is to ensure that we account for every expense so that you get full and fair compensation.

Some clients find this daunting, especially if several months have passed since their injuries.

Our compassionate and professional staff guides you through this process and helps out in every way we can should you need help with this part of your claim. 

Strengthening Your Claim for Special Damages

Lawsuits usually take some time to resolve. In the less likely event that the at-fault party refuses to offer you a fair and adequate amount for your injuries, we are prepared to take your claim to trial and argue it before a judge and jury.

You can do (or avoid doing) a few things as we prepare and litigate your case:

  • Keep All Medical Appointments and Follow-ups

Keep all your medical and therapy appointments and follow your doctor’s advice. These visits not only document the progression of your injuries but also show that you are serious about your recovery. They provide consistent medical records essential for demonstrating the impact of your injuries and for supporting any evidence and testimony about your future medical needs.

  • Avoid Posting About the Accident, Injury, or Case on Social Media

Be very careful about what you share online. Sharing details about your activities or health can lead to misunderstandings or become evidence against you in court. Even posts that seem innocent might contradict your injury claims and significantly weaken your case if the defense finds a way to use it against you.

  • Refer All Inquiries from Insurance Companies to Your Lawyer

Let our results-driven lawyers handle any communications with insurance companies. We have the experience and knowledge to manage insurance companies that try to weaken and devalue your claim. We will never back down until we are sure you will get all the compensation you need and deserve.

We live in an age where information is easily accessed and shared, including medical data, photographs, social media posts, and other sensitive materials that could affect your case. Taking these measures helps us protect your claim’s value and your right to full and fair compensation.

What Is Pure Comparative Negligence and How Does it Affect Me?

California law uses a pure comparative negligence rule for awarding special damages and general damages in personal injury cases. Also known as proportionate responsibility, this rule measures your damages in proportion to the amount of fault you share for the accident and awards you accordingly.

If the court decides you are partly at fault for the accident causing your injuries, it reduces your compensation by your share of the blame.

You may be completely fault-free in an accident, but that may not stop the defense from trying to assign some of the blame to you. You need an aggressive and results-driven personal injury lawyer to maximize your recoverable damages despite any role you may have played in the accident. 

Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer Affects Your Special Damages

Selecting an experienced personal injury lawyer is essential to ensuring you receive all the compensation you need for your injuries.

The right lawyer can improve the outcome of your special damages claim through:

A personal injury lawyer signing the documents in court
  • Defending Against Claims of Partial Blame: Wilshire Law’s personal injury lawyers challenge the other party’s efforts to pin some of the blame on you, which can affect the award for damages you receive.
  • Establishing Negligence: We gather and present evidence to show that the other party is fully or mostly to blame for the accident. This helps maximize the damages you recover.
  • Thorough Investigations: Your Wilshire Law Firm attorney investigates every detail of the accident, gathering all necessary evidence, including accident reports, witness statements, and expert analyses to clearly establish negligence.
  • Identifying All Possible Damages: We know how to identify, document, and present all potential recoverable damages, ensuring that no compensable loss is overlooked.
  • Expert Negotiation: Our lawyers are skilled negotiators who argue for a settlement that accounts for the true extent of your losses.

Choosing the right lawyer means having an advocate equipped to prove your case and committed to securing the compensation you rightfully deserve. 

Win With Wilshire

The claims process is complex and can be emotionally taxing without proper guidance. Wilshire Law knows that serious accidents and injuries leave you with enough to handle.

Our aim is not only to recover as much for your injuries and losses as possible but also to make filing your claim as easy and efficient as possible. 

At Wilshire Law Firm, your recovery is our top priority. We have fought for clients throughout California since 2007 with impressive results.

Our personal injury lawyers, backed by an extensive network of legal, medical, and forensic experts, form a billion-dollar team with a solid record of success. We serve all of our clients with compassion and respect while relentlessly pursuing all of the compensation you deserve.

Call us today at (213) 335-2402 for your free, no-obligation consultation.

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By submitting this form, you agree to receive telephone calls and text messages at anytime, which include hours outside of business hours (8:00 a.m. PST - 9:00 p.m. PST). This is so that we may reach you as soon as possible in order to consult on your potential case.