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What Are Special Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

special damages
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When a person files a personal injury claim, most of the time, they want to maximize financial compensation to cover all of the expenses that they have incurred as a result of the accident. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we regularly help injured victims assess and calculate the damages associated with their personal injury case.

In order to better explain what special damages are, we’ll go over several different types of financial compensation in personal injury claims and how they differ from one another.

If you’ve been injured because of another party’s negligence or you believe that you have a valid personal injury claim, call one of Reich & Binstock’s experienced Houston injury lawyers at 713-622-7271. All of our injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t owe us a dime unless your personal injury case is successful.

What Are General Damages vs Special Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

general damages vs special damages

Depending on the person’s injuries and the specifics surrounding the personal injury claim, the victim may be entitled to both general damages and special damages.

General damages are typically referred to as “non economic damages”, while special damages are called “economic damages”.

General damages typically include the intangible losses that you suffered as a result of your accident or injury. These damages can include the physical pain that you had to endure as a result of the accident. This is known as “pain and suffering”.

They also cover the emotional distress or mental anguish that came as a result of the accident.

On the other hand, the special damages refer to the tangible economic damages that are easy to calculate. These damages come with a specific dollar amount.

So, the main differences between general damages and special damages are:

  1. Special damages typically have a measurable, or a specific monetary value associated with them, while general damages do not.
  2. Special damages are usually easy to calculate, while calculating general damages is extremely difficult.

Both general damages and special damages are added together to make up the compensatory damages.

Having a skilled Houston personal injury lawyer to help you with calculating all compensatory damages including special damages, general damages, and potential punitive damages can prove to be extremely helpful. At Reich & Binstock, we have extensive experience calculating an exact dollar amount that can both provide some justice for your losses suffered and help you move on from the accident.

How to Calculate Special Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are a number of factors to consider when calculating personal injury damages. The personal injury lawyers at Reich & Binstock use the following and more to calculate damages for personal injury cases and wrongful death cases.

Medical Expenses for Personal Injury Cases

how to calculate special damages

For most personal injury victims, medical expenses make up the most significant costs. Severe injuries that involve long-term care will not only affect the injury victim’s quality of life, but they’ll also lead to increased medical costs.

Victims who suffer from a traumatic brain injury can expect to need anywhere from $85,000 to $3 million. One example of a serious brain injury is called a coup-contrecoup brain injury. And, victims who suffer from back or spinal cord injuries, specifically those who have suffered from a catastrophic injury, can expect to need at least $1 million to cover their expenses during their first year of recovering alone.

We urge victims to keep track of all medical expenses incurred. You may receive multiple bills for a single medical treatment: one from the hospital, one from the surgeon, and one from the anesthesiologist, in some cases.

At Reich & Binstock, we assist all of our clients in compiling all of their medical bills so that we can ensure all of your medical costs are included in your calculation. We’ll look for expenses associated with these main categories, and more!

Emergency Medical Treatment

The cost of emergency services tends to add up quickly.

Immediately following the accident, you may have needed emergency transportation, such as an ambulance ride, to the emergency room. A single ambulance ride can cost anywhere between $200 and $2,500, depending on your location, the emergency services required, and the emergency ambulance service that was used.

Additionally, emergency room services can also come with extremely significant costs.

The out of pocket expenses for emergency services will depend on the severity of the injuries you sustained and the medical treatments required, along with the diagnostic scans and surgeries. And, while emergency services are exponentially higher, on average, than having those same services during a scheduled time, this doesn’t mean that you, as the victim, should be responsible for those costs.

Whether you are visiting an urgent care center, your regular physician, or an emergency room, make sure you have a medical professional provide a medical evaluation of your injuries. This will provide critical documentation for all of your injuries for your personal injury case.

A personal injury lawyer from our firm will take the specific dollar amount of all medical expenses, as well as include a budget for future medical care, when we’re calculating your special and general damages.

Medical Imaging

The cost of medical scans and diagnostic procedures should also be included in the calculation for special damages.

Those who have sustained significant injuries may require multiple medical scans and diagnostic procedures so that medical professionals can assess and treat injuries. For instance, if the treating physician believes that the victim has an internal injury, he or she may require x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs for a more accurate diagnosis.

Most treatment plans will require regularly monitoring the victim’s recovery. This means that after the injury, the injured will need to have repeated testing to track their healing process.

More often than not, the costs of ongoing treatment will exceed the amount of coverage that the insurance company will allow, and a lot of the time, medical imaging tests eat up a good portion of the budget, as they are extremely expensive.

Medical Equipment

There are several types of injuries that will require injury victims to use durable medical equipment to help with mobility. This equipment helps victims better adapt to their homes and environment, in general. For many, having this medical equipment will mean the difference between being independent and needing long term assistance.

Depending on the severity and type of injury, victims may need crutches, braces, a wheelchair or other types of support. Additionally, they may need a shower chair or a special bed while they learn to navigate through life with their injuries.

If your injuries require an amputation, you may need or choose to use a prosthetic device to help your mobility. These can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $75,000, depending on the complexity of the medical device and the level of treatment that you’ll need. Furthermore, most prosthetics and medical devices aren’t designed to last a lifetime, so they’ll need to be replaced every 3-5 years.

Psychological and Physical Therapy

Many accident victims will need some type of physical therapy to heal. Some may need therapy to restore their strength while others may need to regain flexibility. Victims may also need occupational therapy to relearn how to complete basic household tasks.

Those who sustained a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or amputations, especially will have to undergo long term therapy.

Additionally, victims that went through any type of traumatic event may need psychological therapy to help them cope with the emotional distress.

Accommodation Expenses

what are special damages

After the accident, you may have large economic damages associated with your injuries that are beyond the cost of medical treatment. Victims of long-term injuries will often require both home and vehicle modifications to accommodate these injuries.

Accessibility Modifications

Depending on what type of injuries you sustained, you may need to make modifications to your home. For example, you may need to make special accommodations in your bathroom to better care for your hygiene. Or, you may need to purchase a special hospital bed so that it’s easier for you to move around.

Wheelchair Ramps

If you need to use a wheelchair for an extended period following the accident, you will need to add wheelchair ramps in order to make your home more accessible.

These can cost anywhere between $3,500 and $10,000. And, for homes that will need to be retrofitted to install the ramp, the cost will be higher.

Widened Doorways

Also, if you’re confined to a wheelchair, you will likely need to widen your doorways. Even if you only need to use the wheelchair on a part time basis, you deserve the ability to roll from one room to the next. And, the at fault party should be required to pay for this.

Lost Wages and Diminished Earning Capacity

special damages in a personal injury case

If you were involved in a minor accident, you may need to only miss a few days from work to have your injuries evaluated. But, if you sustained serious injuries, you may need to miss a substantial amount of time.

Many injuries require that victims take time off of work to focus on their recovery.

If your injury has left you unable to work again or if you can work, but in a diminished capacity, a personal injury attorney from our firm will fight for lost wages as well as future earning capacity or future lost income when determining damages. We’ll take potential bonuses, raises, and inflation all into account for this portion of your special damages claim.

Caretaking Costs

After your accident, your injuries may require you to have at-home care after you’re released from the hospital. While, for some, family members can assist from home, while others will need to hire a skilled nurse to assist in care.

At any rate, the person tasked with caretaking should be fairly compensated by the negligent party.

Depending on the severity of your injuries and the amount of help you need, you may receive a special damage award for:

  • Home care: including cleaning costs and general maintenance labor costs
  • Child care
  • Yard maintenance

Property Damage

special damages

While many expect to receive monetary compensation for their physical injuries, many do not know that you can also sue for property damage, as well. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to include your vehicle in with your other monetary losses. Or, if you smashed your laptop in a slip and fall accident, you may also receive full compensation for that cost, as well.

You’ll need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to see how property damage or losses will affect your claim for special damages.

Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Special Damages Calculations

Those who have been involved in serious accidents will experience significant losses, both economic and non economic. These special and general damages should be included in your personal injury claim.

If you’ve been injured by the gross negligence of another party, you deserve to be compensated for your losses, especially if your injury caused a diminished quality of life.

At Reich & Binstock, our personal injury attorneys have been assisting those seeking financial compensation for injuries for decades. In that time, our team has calculated thousands of claims for general damages or non economic damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

Once we come up with a fair figure, we will negotiate with the at-fault party. And, if we can’t come to a reasonable agreement, we’re always prepared to bring your case to court. We work with several expert witnesses who can attest to the significance of your injuries in front of a judge or jury.

Our legal team will fight to ensure you receive the full and fair compensation amount for your injuries, including all future costs. For your free consultation, call Reich & Binstock at 713-622-7271.

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