All personal injury cases focus on damages. In law, “damages” means money that is paid to make up for specific losses or harm caused to the plaintiff (the victim). The defendant, or the person who is responsible for the losses, can be ordered to pay money to offset these damages. Damages are further divided up into special damages and general damages.
Special damages are specific, quantifiable costs. Examples of special damages include:
- Hospital bills related to an injury
- Repairs to damaged property, such as car repairs in a car accident case
- Replacing stolen or destroyed property
- Lost wages, caused by missing work due to the injury
General damages are much harder to quantify. They refer to the direct consequences of the accident or injury on the victim’s life. Often, direct damages relate to human suffering and irreversible changes. For example:
- Physical pain and suffering caused by an injury
- Mental anguish caused by a loss or its consequences
- Physical impairment, such as a lifelong disability caused by the accident
- Disfigurement, or a permanent change in the way the victim looks
- Lowered quality of life
- Loss of companionship (the death of a loved one)
Obviously, it’s much harder to calculate a dollar amount for general damages. In many cases there is no amount of money that could ever make up for what happened—especially in the case of losing a loved one, or suffering a permanent disability. The law doesn’t pretend that the money will “fix” the situation, but takes the approach that the defendant owes the plaintiff something for their loss, and that money goes a long way toward helping them keep their life on track.
What damages am I entitled to?
The exact damages depend on the case. Damages are very different in a dog bite case, for example, than they are in a nursing home abuse case. Generally, special damages are easy to prove because the cost can be documented or estimated, but you have to provide very specific amounts. Juries are more conservative in awarding general damages, but they are common in severe cases. General damages are also more likely to vary significantly from one case to another, or from one county to the next, because they are not tied to specific numbers like a hospital bill. The best way to know what damages you’re likely to be eligible for is to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.