Filing a personal injury claim serves multiple purposes, but one of the most crucial for a victim is obtaining a compensation award for economic and/or noneconomic damages. A positive injury settlement could contain award amounts to cover many different damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While each personal injury settlement is unique, the broad types of damages potentially available to a victim remain the same in Texas.
What Are General Damages?
The two main damage categories in a Texas personal injury claim are compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages serve to reimburse a victim for his or her losses. Several specific types of damages exist under the broad category of compensatory damages. The two subcategories of compensatory damages are general and special. General damages are those most reasonable accident victims would suffer in a personal injury accident, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life and distress from permanent disabilities or disfigurement.
What Are Special Damages?
Special damages in a personal injury settlement are out-of-pocket losses that are unique to the individual victim. They may include past and future health care expenses, lost income, lost future earning capacity, legal fees, travel costs and the price of property repairs. Special damages are the quantifiable financial losses the victim experienced because of the defendant’s actions or conduct. To obtain special damages, the victim or his or her attorney must prove specific losses through receipts and documentation. Proof can come in the form of medical bills, paystubs and estimates from vehicle mechanics.
What Are Exemplary Damages?
Exemplary damages, often called punitive damages, in personal injury settlements are extra compensation awards granted to a victim in cases involving a defendant’s malicious, intentional or wanton acts. A judge may award exemplary damages in a personal injury case if the defendant’s actions warrant an additional restitution award as a form of punishment. A judge may also issue punitive damages if he or she believes compensatory damages do not adequately compensate a victim for severe, traumatic or permanent losses.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is one of the main types of general damages available in most personal injury claims. Pain and suffering can refer to many different forms of physical pain, mental anguish or emotional distress. A victim may be eligible for pain and suffering damages if the accident or injury caused significant emotional repercussions.
- Anxiety or fear
- Post-traumatic stress
- Physical pain
- Chronic pain
Proving pain and suffering can be more difficult than proving measurable economic damages. Proof can come in the form of testimony from mental health experts, letters from treating psychologists, or statements from family and friends. A lawyer can often help a victim prove pain and suffering as part of an injury settlement.
Can You File a Claim?
As the victim of a personal injury accident in Texas, you could be eligible for compensation to cover special, general and/or punitive damages. Proving your economic and noneconomic damages may take assistance from a personal injury lawyer in Dallas. In most cases, your lawyer will need to establish four main elements to obtain a compensation award on your behalf.
- Duty of care. The defendant in your case must have owed you specific duties of care at the time of your accident.
- Breach of duty. The defendant must have breached, or failed to fulfill, his or her duties of care to you.
- A direct connection must exist between the defendant’s breach of duty and the damages you are claiming.
- Your lawyer must provide proof of economic and/or noneconomic damages related to the accident in question.
Your attorney can review the facts of your recent accident to let you know if you have grounds for a claim against one or more defendants in Dallas. If so, your lawyer could help you negotiate a fair settlement award for your special and other damages during an insurance claim. If a settlement is not possible, your attorney may be able to take your case to court.