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What Are Special Damages In A Personal Injury Case?

Special damages are the expenses and financial losses you suffered because of a personal injury accident. They occurred as a direct result of your accident or injuries and are recoverable damages in an insurance claim or civil lawsuit. These are also known as economic damages.

Special Damages Make Up Part of a Personal Injury Payout

Special damages are one of the two main parts of a payout in a personal injury case. This is true no matter if your attorney negotiated a fair settlement agreement or if you won a verdict and award in your civil lawsuit. Special damages are the monetary relief received to cover your financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses.

As a part of pursuing compensation in a Pennsylvania personal injury case, you will need to document your special damages. The value of these damages may then play a role in calculating the value of the other main part of your payout, your general damages.

Recoverable Special Damages in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case

Almost any type of economic loss or expense that occurred as a direct result of your accident or injuries could be a recoverable special damage. These vary widely from case to case and can include anything from repair or replacement of your vehicle to paying to park at your doctor’s office. Some of the most common economic damages available in a personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Ambulance transportation costs
  • Medical care costs
  • Ongoing care costs
  • Repair or replacement of damaged property
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Miscellaneous related expenses

One reason we recommend always having an attorney look over your case before you sign a settlement agreement with an insurer is that we find that many people overlook significant damages. You could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table. Because we handle these cases regularly, we know the most common special damages and can help you document your full range of expenses and losses.

Calculating the Value of Your Special Damages in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case

One of the first questions many clients ask when they call us is “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, that question is impossible to answer until we build a strong case including documenting your financial losses and expenses — your special damages. The only way we can calculate an accurate value or pursue a payout to cover your special damages is through compiling evidence to prove it.

Common evidence of special damages in a personal injury case include:

  • Copies of your medical bills
  • Repair estimates, replacement costs, or other documentation of property damages
  • Records from your employer showing days absent and income lost
  • Receipts and other documentation of out-of-pocket expenses

When we handle personal injury cases, our team often calls in expert witnesses to help us document special damages. This can help us prove:

  • How long your injuries prevented you from working
  • At what capacity you can return to work
  • Your prognosis, ongoing care needs, and future care needs

While some types of special damages are more difficult to put a dollar figure on than others, it is possible to put a price tag on all of these expenses and losses. There is always a number value associated with special damages, even if it is not always easy to calculate.

Calculating the value and properly documenting special damages is key to getting the payout you need to cover your losses when you approach the insurance company for a settlement or take your case to court. Without fully documenting these losses, it may be difficult to get the payout you deserve in your case.

Special Damages Versus General Damages

In addition to special damages, a personal injury payout may include general damages. Also called noneconomic damages, these are damages that you cannot put an accurate value on with any real certainty. They are not financial expenses or losses, but rather emotional damages. They often include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Other emotional trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment and other similar losses

Calculating an accurate value for these subjective losses is impossible, so insurance companies and court systems have come up with several formulas to attempt to put a price tag on them.

In many cases, these formulas use the value of the special damages in the personal injury case along with other factors such as the nature and severity of the injury and if there are any lasting impairments. Because of this, ensuring you include all possible special damages is even more important.

Talk to a PA Personal Injury Attorney About Pursuing Damages in Your Case

If you suffered injuries in a Pennsylvania personal injury accident, we recommend discussing your case with an attorney before agreeing to the insurance company’s settlement offer. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our team can help you identify and document your special and general damages and pursue the payout you deserve.

Call us today at 215-642-2335 for a free review of your case.

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Written By Michael L. Saile, Jr.
Written By Michael L. Saile, Jr.

Managing Attorney at Cordisco & Saile

Serving as a personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Michael has been honored as both a Brain Injury Top 25 Lawyer by National Trial Lawyers and a 2024 Super Lawyer. He earned his J. D. at Widener University School of Law where he was a member of the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honor Society. Saile is also the author of two publications titled “Not Another Bad Lawyer” and “Don’t Crash Again”.