Whether you were hurt in an accident, at the hands of another, or through using a defective product, you may wish to file a personal injury compensation claim. Before you speak with compensation lawyers, it can help to know that there are different types of personal injury compensation that may be applicable to your case.
Types of Compensation for Personal Injury Claims
There are two basic types of injury compensation: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to “compensate” the plaintiff for the costs related to the injury. Damages under this category are the most commonly awarded and encompass many individual factors that can be added up to create the compensatory damages total. Punitive damages are awarded to “punish” the wrongful party financially.
When it comes to awarding personal injury compensation for damages suffered by the plaintiff, there are generally three types of compensatory damages: special, general, and wrongful death. Each of these types of injury compensation focus on different areas related to the type of harm that was caused by the accident or event.
Special compensatory damages refers to the financial aspects that the injured party faces. When filing a personal injury compensation claim, the first thing that may come to mind may be the medical bills. The plaintiff may be awarded the cost of all previous medical expenses related to the event and any projected future medical costs that may be needed.
There are other expenses that are related to financial loss as well. If the injured party missed work due to the accident or occurrence, an award may be given for any loss of income during the recovery period. Additionally, calculations might be made on your ability to earn income after the accident up until the time of settlement or trial and in the future which is generally referred to as loss of earning capacity.
The injured party may also be eligible for any out-of-pocket expenses related to care due to the event. This can include any medications or medical devices that are needed. Also included may be travel to and from your necessary medical appointments. There are times when certain household expenses may also be included in this award if they occurred as a result of the injury. If you had to change your plans or cancel any planned trips due to the event, you might be able to receive monetary compensation for this as well.
Property damage is also included in the special compensatory damages. This commonly occurs in automobile accidents where the injured party was not at fault. However, property damage is not limited to automobiles. It can include other material possessions, such as clothing or other property that was damaged as a direct result of the event.
General compensatory damages refer to the intangible or non-monetary aspects that typically affect someone who has been harmed because of another. Perhaps the most commonly recognized type of general compensation is referred to as pain and suffering. This is meant to give financial compensation for any serious discomfort that the plaintiff endured as a result of the accident or that may occur in the future from the event. Emotional distress and mental anguish may be included in this category.
Those who have lost a substantial quality of life may also be awarded damages for loss of enjoyment. For example, hobbies, recreation, and daily activities may be included here.
Compensation lawyers may also look into loss of companionship/consortium for a family member who has been dramatically affected by their loved one’s injury. Most often this applies to the spouse for life partner of the injured party. This can be awarded when family relationships have changed as a direct result of the event.
If the injured party has died as a result of the accident or occurrence, surviving loved ones might be eligible for compensatory damages for wrongful death. This can include any tangible costs that occurred before the injured party’s death, including medical expenses and funeral costs. The surviving family members may also be eligible to receive financial compensation for the loss of financial contributions, support, and companionship/consortium.
If the act was especially malicious or done with wanton disregard for the safety of others or if the actor was grossly negligent, it is possible that punitive damages will be awarded against the wrongful party or parties. This is often seen when manufacturers sell a defective product or pharmaceutical companies sell a dangerous medication. The ability to recover punitive damages often provides the injured party with leverage to force a settlement because most often punitive damages are not covered by the wrongful actor’s insurance policy, so the wrongful actor would have to pay the settlement or trial award. This dynamic often times provides an incentive for the wrongful actor to pressure their insurance company to settle the claim so they can avoid pay punitive damages.
Determining Personal Injury Compensation
While it might be easy to calculate certain damages, especially special compensatory damages, others may be a bit more difficult to estimate. A skilled compensation attorney can lead you in the right direction and tell you what information will be necessary in order to increase your chances at receiving fair compensation.