If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to pursue compensation for your damages. The amount of a settlement or award will always vary based on individual circumstances surrounding the accident, severity of injuries, and more. The most commonly awarded damages in an accident or other personal injury claim are special and general damages. In very limited scenarios, there may also be an award for punitive damages.
Special or Economic Damages
Special damages are those damages that relate to tangible items. They are also called economic damages, as they can be linked and measured to a direct economic loss. Special damages are designed to make the victim whole again, compensating them for the money they lost due to injuries sustained in the accident. Some of the more common types of special damages include:
- Medical bills
- Projected future medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Rental car expenses
- Household expenses and other costs incurred
General or Non-Economic Damages
General damages are also called non-economic damages, and these are often the hardest to calculate. Because there is no exact economic amount that can be determined, it becomes subjective. Attorneys and insurance companies typically rely on formulas to help come up with an approximate value. Sometimes, a jury will issue a higher general damages award when a plaintiff has experienced severe trauma.
General damages are designed to compensate the victim for the pain and suffering he or she endured in the accident. In a relatively minor accident, a jury would be hesitant to award a large amount for pain and suffering. However, if someone sustained serious or permanent injuries, the general damages award could be much higher.
Pain and suffering include compensation for physical pain, but also any emotional distress the victim encountered. This can be defined as the anger, fear, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Loss of consortium also falls under non-economic damages. This is compensation for the victim’s spouse for the intangible losses their marriage experienced. This can be loss of affection, sexual relations, comfort, assistance, and companionship.
Punitive damages are only awarded in very specific cases. These are damages designed to punish the defendant for their reckless or intentional behavior that injured the plaintiff. These are not to make the plaintiff whole, but to serve as a deterrent and warning to the defendant. The defendant’s actions have to be deemed outrageous, like drag racing or road rage.
A jury will take certain factors into consideration when determining punitive damages. These include any history of similar conduct in the past, how much harm they caused, and the likelihood of the award deterring the defendant or someone else from engaging in similar conduct.
Retaining a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident another type of personal injury claim, you need to speak with an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney. Our team at Elrod Pope Law Firm can help get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at 803-599-3080 to schedule a consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.