What are General Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

In the legal context, “damages” refer to the monetary compensation awarded to a person who has suffered loss or injury due to the unlawful act or negligence of another party. Damages can be financial or non-financial (e.g., general damages) in nature. They are designed to restore the injured party, as much as possible, to the position they would have been in if the harm had not occurred.

General Damages in Personal Injury Cases

General damages in personal injury claims pertain to non-economic or non-monetary damages. These losses are not easily quantifiable as they involve subjective assessments and relate to the suffering and hardships endured by the victim due to the injury. They are intended to compensate for the negative impacts that don’t have a clear monetary value associated with them.

Here are some examples of general damages in personal injury law:

  • Pain and suffering:  This refers to the physical pain and discomfort that a victim has to endure as a result of the injury.
  • Emotional distress:  If the injury leads to significant stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional issues, the victim may be compensated for this.
  • Mental anguish:  This refers to the severe emotional or psychological harm suffered due to the traumatic experience of the injury.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life:  If the injury prevents the victim from enjoying day-to-day pursuits and hobbies, they may be entitled to compensation.
  • Decreased quality of life:  Damages may be awarded if the injury has resulted in a general decrease in the victim’s overall quality of life.
  • Loss of consortium:  Loss of consortium refers to the damages awarded if the injury negatively affects the victim’s relationship with their spouse.
  • Loss of companionship:  If the victim’s relationship with family or friends has been negatively affected by the injury, they may be entitled to damages.
  • Disfigurement or physical impairment:  If the injury leads to permanent physical changes or disability, such as an amputation injury, the victim may be compensated for this.
  • Inconvenience:  Compensation may be awarded if the injury has caused significant disruption in the victim’s daily routine or lifestyle.

How Do You Prove General Damages in Personal Injury Claims?

Proving general damages in personal injury claims can be more challenging than proving economic damages, as they are subjective and do not have a direct economic value. To prove general damages, claimants will need to provide evidence, such as:

  • Medical Records: These are crucial as they not only document the physical injuries sustained but also mental and emotional distress experienced by the victim. They provide a factual basis for their pain and suffering claims.
  • Psychiatric Records: If the victim has sought psychiatric help for conditions like PTSD, anxiety, or depression as a result of the injury, these records can serve as evidence of mental anguish.
  • Personal Journals: A diary or journal detailing the victim’s day-to-day life post-injury and the distress and inconveniences endured can provide a first-hand account of their suffering.
  • Photographs: Images showing the progression of the victim’s injuries can be powerful visual evidence of their physical and emotional pain.
  • Testimonies: Statements from friends, family, and co-workers can validate the victim’s claims about the changes in their lifestyle, disposition, and relationships after the injury.
  • Expert Witnesses: Professionals like psychiatrists or life care planners can testify about the victim’s mental health condition or future care needs, lending credibility to the claim. Similarly, accident reconstruction experts can help paint a picture of what the victim endured.

Remember that while general damages are intangible, they are still a critical component of a personal injury claim. Although convincingly proving general damages can be challenging, legal guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney can be invaluable in this process.

How Do You Calculate General Damages in Personal Injury Claims?

Calculating general damages in personal injury claims involves considering the nature, severity, and long-term implications of the injury. Here are some commonly used methods for estimating these damages:

  • Multiplier Method: This method involves multiplying the total amount of economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) by a certain number (usually between 1.5 and 5). The multiplier reflects the severity of the injury, with more serious injuries receiving a higher multiplier.
  • Per Diem Method: The Per Diem method assigns a certain dollar amount for each day the victim suffers due to the injury, from the date of the accident until the victim reaches maximum recovery. This daily rate is often equivalent to the victim’s daily wage.
  • Hedonic Damages Method: The Hedonic Damages method seeks to quantify the loss of life’s pleasures and experiences that the victim can no longer enjoy due to the injury. It involves assigning a monetary value to various aspects of life’s enjoyment.
  • Structured Settlements Method:  In this method, a negotiated settlement is reached in which the victim is compensated through regular payments over an agreed period. These payments are often designed to cover ongoing medical costs and living expenses.
  • Economic Model Method: This method is often used in high-value claims, where economists or actuaries are hired to project the victim’s lifetime earnings and other financial losses resulting from the injury.

It’s important to remember that each case is unique and may require a combination of these methods to accurately calculate general damages. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can provide much-needed guidance and expertise in this complex process.

Do States Impose Any Caps on General Damages?

Yes, some states do impose caps on damages in personal injury cases, including general damages. In the state of Texas, for instance, there are limitations on non-economic damages in specific types of personal injury cases. The most notable cap is in medical malpractice cases.

As per the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, in medical malpractice lawsuits, the non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 per claimant against a single health care institution or practitioner, and $500,000 against multiple institutions or practitioners.

However, it’s essential to note that these caps are controversial and have been subject to legal challenges. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a legal expert to understand the current laws and how they may affect a personal injury claim in Texas.

How Can Thompson Law Help Me Understand if I am Eligible for Claiming General Damages?

Thompson Law, with its expert team of personal injury attorneys, is equipped to assist you in deciphering the complexities of personal injury claims and general damages. Our attorneys will meticulously examine the specifics of your case, factoring in all the physical, emotional, and lifestyle impacts of your injury.

By helping you gather the necessary documentary evidence, and coordinating with medical experts and therapists to provide testimony, we’ll strengthen your claim for general damages. Additionally, our team will offer guidance about the most appropriate method for calculating your damages, be it the Pain Multiplier or the Per Diem method, tailored to your individual circumstances.

If your case is in a state with limitations on non-economic damages, we will clearly explain these restrictions and devise a strategy that best positions your claim within the existing legal framework. Further, our attorneys can help you understand if your claim qualifies for the other types of damages, such as special damages and punitive damages. Trust Thompson Law to fight for your right to just and fair compensation.

If you’ve been harmed by someone else’s negligent actions, contact Thompson Law today for a FREE CASE REVIEW. Our law firm will help you understand what damages you may be able to claim, and guide you through the personal injury claims process.
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