What are Special Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

In civil lawsuits, most plaintiffs file a suit seeking compensation for damages. In the context of law, “damages” refer to the monetary compensation awarded to a person who has suffered loss or injury due to the negligent or intentional act of another party. The primary purpose of the claim is to seek compensation for monetary losses (e.g., special damages), though non-financial losses are also sought in certain circumstances.

Special Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Special damages, also known as economic damages, are specific, out-of-pocket expenses that a claimant incurs as a direct result of their injury. Unlike general damages, which are non-economic and relate to pain and suffering, special damages can be calculated and proven with bills, receipts, and records. Special damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical expenses:  This can include hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and any other healthcare costs related to the injury.
  • Lost earnings:  If the injury caused the claimant to miss work or diminished their earning capacity, they can claim for lost wages or loss of future earnings.
  • Property damage:  If the claimant’s property was damaged as a result of the incident, they can claim for repairs or replacement.
  • Travel expenses:  Costs incurred for travel to and from medical treatments can be claimed as special damages.
  • Costs of care:  If the claimant requires assistance with day-to-day tasks because of their injury, they can claim for the costs of a caretaker.
  • Rehabilitation costs:  These are the costs associated with treatment aimed at helping the claimant return to their pre-injury state.

How Do You Prove Special Damages in Personal Injury Claims?

Proving and calculating special damages in personal injury claims involves a rigorous process of documentation, verification, quantification, and correlation. Steps you should take to prove special damages include:

  • Document all costs: Maintain thorough records of all expenses related to the injury, including medical bills, prescription receipts, repair costs for damaged property, and any other out-of-pocket costs.
  • Verify expenses: It’s critical to ensure that the claimed expenses were necessary and reasonable. This may involve obtaining testimonies from medical professionals in the case of medical expenses, or from mechanics for vehicle repair costs. This step serves to legitimize the expenses related to the injury, reinforcing the integrity of the special damages claim.
  • Track lost income: Keep a detailed account of the time missed from work due to the injury, and compute the corresponding loss of income.
  • Quantify additional expenses: Ensure to include and quantify any costs related to rehabilitation, hired help for daily tasks, and travel for medical treatments.
  • Consult experts for future losses: For complex estimations such as predicting future medical expenses or loss of future earnings, consult with medical professionals, vocational experts, and economists.
  • Correlate damages to the injury event: Establish a clear connection between the claimed damages and the incident leading to the injury. This can be accomplished through medical records linking the treatment to the injuries sustained, or employer records correlating lost wages with time off due to the injury. Professional testimonies can also bolster the link between the damages and the injury event.

Given the complexity and the fact that the claimant bears the burden of proof, it is often advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that the special damages are accurately calculated, and all future losses are properly estimated.

How Do You Calculate Special Damages in Personal Injury Claims?

Calculating special damages in personal injury claims involves several steps:

  • Identify all immediate costs: Begin by tallying up all immediate expenses incurred as a result of the injury. These include medical costs, such as hospital bills, prescription charges, and the cost of physical therapy, as well as other expenses like property repair charges or any other out-of-pocket expenditures.
  • Track lost wages: Document any lost income due to the time off work because of the injury. If the injury has resulted in reduced earning capacity, calculate the difference in your income.
  • Factor in additional expenses: Consider the costs of rehabilitation, domestic help hired due to the injury, and any travel expenses related to medical treatments. These should also be part of the special damages calculation.
  • Estimate future losses: Future expenses like ongoing medical treatment costs, future loss of earnings, or long-term care should also be factored into the calculation. This may require consultation with medical professionals, vocational experts, or economists to make accurate predictions.
  • Sum up all costs: The total of all the above constitutes the special damages claim. It may be advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that all costs have been considered and accurately calculated.

Do States Impose Any Caps on Special Damages?

Various states across the U.S. have implemented caps on certain types of damages in personal injury cases, including special damages. However, it’s important to note that these caps vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another.

In Texas, there are no hard limits or caps placed on special damages, which means a claimant can recover the full amount of quantifiable economic losses. These monetary damages could include medical expenses, lost earnings, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses resulting directly from the injury.

However, it’s worth noting that Texas does impose caps on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, in certain scenarios. For example, in medical malpractice cases, Texas law sets a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages per claimant against a single healthcare institution.

Therefore, while special damages are not capped, the total compensation a claimant may receive could still be limited by these restrictions on non-economic damages. It’s always recommended to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to understand the full extent of potential compensation in a personal injury claim.

How Can Thompson Law Help Me Understand if I am Eligible to Claim Special Damages?

Thompson Law is equipped with a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who specialize in handling cases involving special damages. Our legal experts will provide a thorough evaluation of your case, helping you understand if you are eligible to file a claim for special damages.

We guide our clients through the meticulous process of documentation and quantification required in these cases. From gathering medical bills and prescription receipts to calculating lost wages and future earnings, our team is there to ensure no detail is overlooked.

If your case involves predicting future losses such as medical expenses or lost earning capacity, we collaborate with medical professionals, vocational experts, and economists to provide an accurate estimation. With Thompson Law, you can rest assured that your special damages claim will be rigorously prepared, maximizing your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. Further, we can help you understand if your claim qualifies for other types of damages, such as general damages and punitive damages.

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact Thompson Law for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our attorneys will help you understand what damages you claim, and guide you through the injury claim process.
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