What are Special Damages?
After an accident, your financial losses– those that can be calculated in terms of specific dollar amounts– are also referred to as “special damages.”
They make up the base of a personal injury award or insurance settlement, and they also affect the calculation of non-economic damages. Our lawyers ensure all special damages are accounted for and verified to secure the most compensation possible.
The difference between special damages and general damages
Special damages are called this because they can be accurately determined in each case. The amount is unique to you.
Non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and disability, on the other hand, are intangible. They must be assumed based on the facts because they are not supported by specific financials. They are referred to as “general damages.”
Calculating general damages based on special damages
Since general damages are more subjective, there is no truly accurate way to calculate them. Insurance companies typically use computer programs, while lawyers and judges use formulas.
Often, the calculations start with the value of the special damages and apply a multiplier based on the seriousness of the injury. The resulting number may also be tweaked if there is a permanent disability.
Accounting for all of your financial losses can impact much more than just your special damages award. Your attorney will make sure you recover the full amount since it will also affect any compensation for general damages.
What is included in special damages?
The recoverable expenses are different in each case and can include:
- Medical bills, from the emergency room to doctor visits to ongoing physical therapy
- Ambulance costs
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Cost to repair or replace damaged property
- Other related expenses
People often overlook all of their expenses. Missing something here and there adds up, especially when it impacts the calculation of non-economic damages.
If you discover additional expenses after you settle your case, it will be too late to make a claim for them. We carefully review everything because settlement agreements are final.
Presenting evidence of special damages
If you claim an economic loss, you need proof. We help clients compile the documentation they need to calculate the real value of their losses.
Evidence of special damages often includes:
- Medical bills
- Invoices for services
- Payroll records or tax returns
- Employment records showing how much time you were off of work
- Repair estimates
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
- Testimony of doctors who can explain how long you are expected to be unable to work and your capacity for work after you return
- Testimony of experts who can explain the long-term financial impact, for example, of the effect of missed promotions and raises, while you were recovering
Sometimes this evidence is readily available, but other times, it takes detective work and perseverance. Either way, we will guide you through the process.
Including all special damages
After suffering a personal injury, your first concern will be to fully recover and get back to your life. The reality is this will be easier to do when your financial and non-financial losses are fully compensated.
In some ways, special damages are the cornerstone of your insurance claim or court award. The calculation of your non-financial losses will be based on them.
Contact us today for a free evaluation
At Chaffin Luhana, we use our 85 years of combined experience to help individuals fully account for their losses, even when that is difficult. Our goal in every case is to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Pittsburgh. Consultations are always free and confidential.