What Types of Damages Can You Get in a Personal Injury Case?


Federal law uses damages to compensate victims for the harm they've suffered because of another person’s actions. Courts award damages to “make victims whole,” as if their injuries never happened. Of course, it’s literally impossible to undo an injury. Instead, damages give victims financial compensation to offset the harm they’ve experienced.

If you’ve been injured, you need medical treatment – whether your injury was caused by a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, an injury caused by a defective product, or something else. Even with insurance, treating your injuries can cost a significant sum. Typically, the more complex your injuries, the higher your medical bills will be – especially if you need lifelong care or support.

But damages don’t just stop there because an injury can have a greater impact on your life than just medical bills. You may suffer physical pain for years as a result of your injuries, which can develop into long-term chronic symptoms or lifelong disability. You may become unable to work, losing an important source of income for yourself and your family. You may find that you are no longer able to participate in activities that used to bring you joy.

Damages help compensate you for all that you’ve lost as a result of an injury – not just your financial losses. Some types of damages even exist to punish especially negligent or reckless behavior that led to your injury. Damages in personal injury cases could recover hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for victims.

If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing (whether that's from a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall accident, an injury caused by a defective product, or something else), you could recover more compensation than you may even realize. Call the award-winning personal injury lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm at (800) 501-3011 to get a FREE consultation of your case.

What Are the Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits can result in three types of damages:

  • Specific or economic damages compensate you for all the financial losses you’ve suffered and any future costs you expect because of your injury, including medical expenses, property damage, repair or replacement costs (such as vehicle repair after a crash), lost income or wages, lost earning potential, rehabilitation costs, home and vehicle modifications, etc.
  • General or non-economic damages compensate you for any physical pain you’ve suffered as well as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, shortened lifespan, disfigurement, or increased risk of future harm as a result of your injuries.
  • Punitive damages punish the responsible party for their role in causing your injury, but are limited to cases involving especially bad, reckless, or intentional behavior.

The categories above may cover much more than you’d think. For example, if you’ve been injured in a traffic accident and your car needs repairs, you can include the cost of a rental car in your personal injury lawsuit. If you’re a stay-at-home mom who can’t function at the same capacity because of your injuries, you could get damages to cover the cost of childcare.

Be sure to discuss your potential damages with a qualified attorney, as each of the types of compensation you’re eligible for will vary on a case-by-case basis.

How Are Lawsuit Damages Calculated?

Calculating the amount of damages depends on the type of damages involved.

Specific or economic damages are the most straightforward to calculate. For past expenses, you can simply show your bills. For future expenses and medical bills, your legal team can help calculate an estimate of the cost based on the severity of your injuries and the extent of the treatment you’ll need. 

General or non-economic damages are more intangible in comparison. Courts calculate pain and suffering based on your medical diagnosis, testimony about your injuries by expert witnesses, records from your mental health providers such as therapists or psychiatrists, and prescriptions for pain medication. The worse your injuries are and the longer you’ll need treatment, the more damages you can expect.

Punitive damages generally can’t be more than four times your general damages as most courts require them to be “relatively proportionate” to the harm you’ve suffered. Based on the state where you were injured, there may be additional limits on punitive damages.

The best way to recover the full compensation you deserve is to present a strong case. That means you need good, convincing evidence to prove your claims.

At Wilshire Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers can thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and injuries, making sure you have the best evidence possible to prove your case. Every little detail counts when it comes to getting the maximum possible recovery for our clients.

How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Lawsuit?

“Pain and suffering” is an umbrella term that describes the mental harms you suffer as a result of an injury. When deciding the amount of pain and suffering damages, courts look at:

  • How much pain, discomfort, or distress you feel on a daily basis
  • How much medical treatment you’ll need to recover
  • Whether your doctors expect you to make a full recovery or not
  • Any pre-existing conditions that became worse because of the injury
  • If you’ve experienced any long-term or permanent disability, impairment, or scarring
  • Whether the injury puts you at a greater risk of future harm to your health
  • If you experience a lower life expectancy because of the injury
  • The effect of your injuries on your ability to work or enjoy certain activities

How Much Money Can You Get From a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits can recover thousands to even millions of dollars for victims. As an example, the Wilshire Law Firm has won hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients since 2007.

The amount of money you can expect from a personal injury lawsuit depends on:

  • The severity of your injuries, and
  • The strength of your evidence.

A successful personal injury lawsuit can end up with a payout in the form of a negotiated settlement agreement between parties or a judgment by the court. A settlement can be negotiated up until the court makes a judgment. Many personal injury lawsuits settle because the responsible party wants to avoid a long and expensive court case that they know they’ll lose.

Because each case is different, it’s critical that you work with an attorney to determine what types of damages you can claim, the amount of compensation you should be seeking, and how to properly proceed with your case.

Wilshire Law Firm is a nationwide leader in handling even the most complex personal injury cases. We’ve fought passionately for the rights of injury victims for years, with hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation recovered for our clients since 2007.

Our legal team is available 24/7 for your convenience. Call us now at (800) 501-3011 for your FREE consultation or use our online form to contact us.

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