A Visual Guide to the Different Types of Damages

Have you recently been the victim of a personal injury? Being on the receiving end of someone else’s negligence is never easy. More than physical harm, personal injuries can also involve emotional distress, which can have serious effects on your quality of life. Note that your compensation can vary since personal injury damages differ per case. 

Compensation is more straightforward for some, like in the case of property damage, since it already has monetary value. However, calculating pain and suffering can be more complicated despite being a valid factor that influences the size of your compensation. 
The infographic below walks you through the types of personal injury damages you are entitled to and how to file your case properly. 

What are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

Generally, personal injury damages refer to the monetary compensation liable parties must give the victims to recover the losses they suffered from the injury. In some cases, such as non-economic damages, these awards may be non-monetary. 

To illustrate, suppose you slipped on a wet surface at a grocery store. There was no “Wet Floor” sign, and you broke your wrist attempting to save yourself. Now, you’re faced with medical and rehabilitation bills to help you recover from your injuries. Additionally, you missed a few workdays to recover and are now worried about walking into another supermarket.

The law may hold the grocery store liable for your injuries and order the owners to compensate you for the monetary losses and emotional distress. 

Facts and Stats on Personal Injury Damages

Understanding current personal injury facts and statistics helps you set realistic expectations about seeking compensation and justice for your case.

At 39,957 cases in 2022, Los Angeles has the most fatality and injury crashes in California (Transportation Injury Mapping System)

This statistic underscores how, regardless of how much you practice defensive driving, there’s still a considerable chance of getting into an accident, especially if you live in a city as populated as Los Angeles. Knowing what to do in a personal injury case helps you act faster in serious accidents and seek damages effectively.

Compensation can reach over $23 million (Courtroom View Network)

In February 2021, a California state court judge awarded $23.7 million to a motorcycle driver who suffered injuries from a crash with a truck working for a large corporation, forcing medics to amputate a part of his leg. This case highlights that who you select to represent you matters. 

A personal injury lawyer who understands the city you live in and has had decades of experience working on similar cases is your best bet at successfully seeking damages.  

3,844 severe injury crashes were recorded in California in 2023 (Transportation Injury Mapping System)

With the state seeing 3,844 severe injury crashes, or roughly 10 per day, it highlights how important it is to prepare in the unfortunate event that you become part of that number. 

The crash itself is already a considerable hassle; the legalities of the situation when you go to the hospital or pay for repairs can complicate matters even more. Seeking legal support as soon as possible will help you resolve the issues faster. 

Personal injury cases can last from a few months to a year or more (NOLO)

There isn’t a standard duration for how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim since plenty of factors can either prolong or shorten the process. Three top factors typically influence the longevity of the case: determining the medical prognosis, identifying liability, and negotiating. 

The type of personal injury you suffer can also influence the process. Awareness of these different types can help you better prepare your case.

Types of Personal Injury Damages

Not all types of personal injury damages are alike. If you want the liable party to compensate you successfully, it helps to understand the specific damage they’ve caused you. Here’s a breakdown of the key types.

Economic damages

What is special damages? Many also call them economic damages, which refers to the tangible financial losses you incurred due to someone’s negligence. These are quantifiable, so the monetary value of your losses and how much the liable party owes you are easy to determine. 

Medical expenses, lost wages, and property repair costs are under this type of personal injury damages. California Civil Code CIV § 1431.2 states that funeral expenses, loss of employment opportunities, and costs of obtaining substitute domestic services are also part of economic damages.

Non-economic damages

In direct contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages are the intangible losses you suffered as part of the personal injury case. These typically involve the impact on the quality of your daily life. 

For instance, suppose you’ve always loved playing basketball. A broken wrist caused by another party in an accident can make shooting the ball painful, severely draining the happiness and enjoyment you felt playing the sport. 

Non-economic damages don’t have a standard or specific monetary value because the experiences are subjective. You will need to negotiate how much your pain, suffering, and lingering emotional trauma costs you. This fact is why determining non-economic damages can take so long. 

Punitive damages

In cases where authorities deem the defendant’s actions intentional or particularly egregious, they may also need to pay additional punitive damages. These serve as severe punishments on top of the other types of compensation. 

Why does the law include these types of damages? One reason is that it directly punishes the liable party for their actions. Another is to use the case as an example to discourage others from committing the same harmful actions.

Wrongful death damages

In tragic cases where a personal injury results in the loss of someone’s life, authorities may require the liable party to pay wrongful death damages. Section 377.60 of the California Code of Civil Procedure states that surviving family members, domestic partners, and spouses are all allowed to file for these types of personal injury damages.

Wrongful death damages seek to compensate family members for both the economic and non-economic damages they suffer, including funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and the toll that losing a loved one takes on their emotional and mental well-being.

How to File a Claim on Personal Injury Damages

Compensation for the damages for personal injury cases can often be complex and overwhelming. It requires careful navigation and organization to strengthen your case as much as possible. 

Filing a claim on damages will also depend on what cause of action—the grounds of your case—you want to put forward to the court. Here’s a simplified list of steps to follow when filing a claim on personal injury damages.

Seek legal counsel

The first and, arguably, most crucial step is to consult with a personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can provide valuable insights into the strength of your case, the personal injury damages you can claim, and what to expect with the legal process. 

Lawyers specializing in your type of personal injury case know best about how you can navigate the relevant laws. For instance, if you suffered sprains from a car crash, a car accident lawyer is the ideal legal counsel to seek. They will help you understand the damages you can claim and build a strong case.

Gather evidence

The evidence you gather will be the foundation of your personal injury claim. The clearer the evidence, the stronger your case. That means collecting all relevant documentation, including witness accounts, in a careful process of discovery. 

For example, suppose you suffered a dog bite. Dog bite injury lawyers will need you to collect photographs of the bite and where it took place, statements from witnesses, and proof of the defendant’s negligence. In this scenario, it could be that the owner failed to tighten the dog’s leash. 

File your complaint

Once you’ve gathered relevant evidence, you can file a formal complaint against the liable party with your attorney’s guidance. The statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years since the incident, meaning your complaint will remain valid until two years have passed. But if you only recently discovered the injury, you only have one year. 

The complaint you file is a legal document outlining the details of the incident, the damages you’re seeking, and the legal basis of your claim. Defendants will then be served the complaint, which commences the legal process.

Settle out of court 

As the name suggests, an out-of-court settlement is an arrangement where you reach a mutually agreed resolution without going through the lengthy and tedious process of court intervention. This involves you and your attorney discussing and negotiating with the defendant or their insurance provider to reach a fair settlement. 

Settling out of court isn’t always inevitable. If you and the other party fail to decide on an agreeable arrangement, you may need to bring your case to court.

Prepare for trial

Statistics have shown that roughly 4% of personal injury cases go to trial. 

Litigation is a serious undertaking in the timeline of a personal injury case, requiring months of preparation. Your personal injury lawyer is responsible for presenting your case to convince the court to rule in your favor. They’ll also be in charge of orienting key witnesses and preparing them for questioning under oath.

The trial itself can take several days. A jury will be present, with a judge presiding the session. Witnesses will testify their side of the situation to help the court reach a decision better. After each party has presented their arguments and questioned their key witnesses, the judge and jury will determine the defendant’s guilt.  

Damage Recovery Done Remarkably 

Personal injuries can range in severity and type, and so do the compensation you can expect to recover.

Determining economic damages is straightforward since certain items, such as property and medical bills, already have monetary value. However, you may need the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer to determine how much the liable party owes you for emotional distress and other non-economic damages.

Attorneys will also help you build your case to recover punitive or wrongful death damages potentially. Along the way, they’ll guide you through the arduous process of filing your personal injury claim. RMD Law provides you with the tireless representation you deserve throughout the process, from discovery to trial, should it come to that. 

If you want a glimpse of the strength of your case and how much you can potentially recover, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Aria Miran
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