How are General, Special, and Punitive Damages calculated in a Personal Injury Case?

In a prior post entitled “What Types of Damages can I recover in My Personal Injury Lawsuit?” it was explained how general, special, and punitive damages differed from one another.  When personal injury lawyers prepare for lawsuits in the communities of Brantford and Hamilton, they will usually calculate what these damages are worth in order to place a value of your case and claim.  Consequently, a common question that many personal injury lawyers have to answer is “How are these damages calculated?” The following will give you a better idea of how the process works.

General or Non-Economic Damages

While the insurance companies and personal injury lawyers may have their own formulas for calculating damages, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determine those amounts.  Furthermore, when the plaintiff has experience a severe trauma such as a catastrophic injury, judges and juries will usually award larger compensation amounts to the victim. Usually the amount is fixed based on the level of injuries that the victim has sustained.

As an example, let’s assume that the injuries you sustained in an accident were minor and that you were released from the hospital within a few days, the jury would be reluctant to consider any pain and suffering damages.  Conversely, if you were badly burned and you had to have months of rehabilitative therapy and numerous surgeries, you would most likely be awarded damages for pain and suffering.

Special or Economic Damages

The calculation of special damages will usually involve a number of different factors such as lost earning capacity, lost wages (past and future), medical expenses (past and future), property damage, and so on.  For instance, if you were injured in an auto accident, you would calculate these damages based on the damage to your vehicle, medical expenses you paid for treatment of your injuries, and the wages you lost because you had to miss work while you were recovering.  Like general damages, special damages are intended to make you economically whole again.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages occasionally play a role in some personal injury cases in Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton.  The intention of punitive damages is to punish the offending party and discourage them from ever committing that type of offense in the future.  When calculating the amount of punitive damages to be awarded, some guidelines that are usually followed include:

·         Punitive damages usually accompany general and special damages.  They are never awarded by themselves.

·         The amount of punitive damages cannot be greater than 4 times that of general and special damages.  In other words, they must be proportionate.

·         The behavior of the defendant was deemed more than just negligent.  In other words, they exhibited a total disregard for the care and safety of the other individual.

If you are still unclear as to how these different types of damages are awarded, you should have your personal injury lawyer interpret this for you.