If you are just at the beginning of the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit, it can feel overwhelming. There are so many new things you need to understand to be sure you get compensated the fair amount. One of the most fundamental questions you need to know the answer to is, “What expenses can I claim?” In the legal world, these are called damages. Your attorney, can help you make sure you claim every damage possible, but this guide will go over the basics for you.

Types of Damages

There are three types of damages that the defendant can be ordered to pay. Of these, you can only claim two of them. The third category is completely out of you and your attorney’s hands. Damages can be categorized into these types:

  • Special Compensatory Damages
  • General Compensatory Damages
  • Punitive Damages

Special compensatory damages refer to all financial losses. If you can place an exact and objective dollar value on a type of loss you experienced, it will fall into this category. For example, if you paid a $5,000 hospital bill, then it would be a special compensatory damage. The most common types of damages in this category include medical bills, lost wages, damage to property, and miscellaneous purchases that were the direct result of the injury, such as a wheelchair or medicine.

General compensatory damages refer to all non-financial losses. If you cannot place an exact and objective dollar value on a loss, then it probably falls into this category. All general compensatory damages are more subjective in nature, such as physical pain experienced. Because there is not an objective monetary value, the judge will be the one to determine exactly how much the defendant owes you for all accepted general compensatory damages. The most common types of damages in this category include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of mobility, disfigurement, wrongful death, and loss of enjoyment of life.

While punitive damages are a type of damage, you cannot claim punitive damages. Instead, the judge may or may not assign them to your case. This is because punitive damages are not a form of compensation. Instead, they are strictly meant to be a punishment for the defendant. Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases, although it is a possibility if the injury was caused by the defendant breaking the law or intentionally causing you harm.

If you have any other questions about damages in your case, you should ask your attorney.