If you file a compensation claim for injuries that were caused due to no fault of yours, the money that the court awards you as compensation is called damages. The damages can be grouped into two categories – general damages and special damages.
What Are General Damages In A Personal Injury Claim?
General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct physical and/or psychological effects of the accident, where the claimant’s injuries can be clearly linked to the defendant’s actions or behaviour.
Common examples of general damages:
- Physical pain and suffering – If you are injured in an accident, you will almost certainly experience some measure of pain and suffering for which you can claim general damages.
- Physical injury or impairment – You can also claim under this category if you suffered some disfigurement or disability that makes it difficult to move about freely or perform everyday tasks.
- Mental pain and anguish – In addition to inflicting pain, memories of the accident can cause ongoing trauma, resulting in persistent stress and anxiety, which you are entitled to be compensated for.
- Lower quality of life – Pain, mobility restrictions and mental anguish can make performing even everyday tasks more challenging resulting in increasing dependence on others. Some accident victims lose interest in activities they once enjoyed because of the difficulties involved in pursuing these activities.
- Loss of companionship – Damages for loss of companionship are paid to family members in wrongful death cases.
- Loss of a unique career – If the injuries do not allow you to go back to your former place of employment and you are forced to change careers, you may be entitled to damages for loss of a unique career.
- Difficulty finding another job – Looking for a job after an accident that has resulted in considerable physical and mental pain can be even more difficult than usual.
Calculating general damages is one of the more challenging aspects of filing a personal injury claim. The money that is awarded under the general damages category is meant to compensate for subjective injuries such as those mentioned above. The problem is, none of these losses can be calculated in actual terms. How do you measure physical pain and suffering or mental anguish? It is impossible to assign an exact compensation amount for these injuries as every person’s reaction to the accident is likely to be unique. However, the Judicial College regularly publish/update guideline compensation amounts for general damages that legal professionals can refer to when calculating compensation.
Generally, the compensation that is awarded for general damages depends on the type and severity of the injury and its long term impact on the victim. The personal injury solicitor’s skills play a huge role in influencing the total amount of compensation awarded.
What Are Special Damages In A Personal Injury Claim?
Special damages are awarded to compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses/financial costs that a claimant has incurred as a direct result of the defendant’s actions or behaviour.
The exact categories that a claimant may be able to claim for will vary depending on their specific circumstances.
Common examples of special damages include:
- Short-term medical expenses – Short term medical expenses includes doctor’s consultation fees, hospital charges and all other expenses related to medication, diagnostic tests and hospital stay.
- Long-term medical expenses – Some injuries may require you to undergo long term physiotherapy or other medical treatments. If this was made necessary because of the accident, you can claim compensation under special damages.
- Transportation costs – This helps to cover the cost of travelling to and from the hospital for ongoing visits, whether you travel by private car, taxi, bus or train.
- Loss of income – Loss of income compensation is applicable if your salary was cut or if you lost out on some monetary bonus or other perks because your injuries forced you to stay away from work for a period of time.
- Loss of earning capacity – If the injuries are such that you are unable to return to your former place of employment and are forced to take up a lower-paying job, you may be able to claim compensation under this category.
- Repair or replacement of damaged property – If your personal property was damaged in the accident, you can claim for the actual cost of repairing or replacing it.
Unlike general damages, calculating special damages is much more straightforward because it is based on actual expenses. It takes into consideration all of the expenses you were forced to incur as a direct result of the accident. It also takes into consideration future costs of medical care and future loss of income that is directly tied to your injuries.
Supporting Your Claim For General And Special Damages
To get the maximum compensation due to you, you must be able to support your claim with compelling evidence of your losses. Supporting your claim for special damages is comparatively easier as it involves keeping the medical records and receipts of all expenses directly related to the accident.
Claiming for general damages on the other hand can be much more difficult as it involves proving to the court that your pain, suffering and other subjective losses are real and significant. This is where hiring a personal injury solicitor can make a huge difference. They have the knowledge, experience and skills to convince the court that you should be compensated for the pain and suffering that resulted from the accident.
What’s more, if you have a strong case, our personal injury solicitors will help you get the maximum damages due to you without asking you to pay any legal fees at the outset. Instead we will ask you to sign a No Win No Fee agreement, which states that you shall only have to pay our fee if the claim is successful and is an agreed percentage of the compensation you are awarded.
Hiring an experienced personal injury solicitor is a far better way to proceed with filing a compensation claim. With an experienced solicitor representing you, you have a better chance of getting the maximum compensation awarded to you, both for general as well as special damages.