There are several types of personal injury compensation. And no matter where you are in your case, it’s important you have a thorough understanding of what type(s) of personal injury compensation you and your personal injury attorney in Houston are fighting for.
This guide to the different types of personal injury compensation can be useful throughout your settlement negotiations and/or trial.
If you’re still searching for a personal injury lawyer to help you explore your options in a high-value case, the experienced attorneys at Mithoff Law are here to help. Call us today at 713-654-1122 to schedule a consultation.
An overview of personal injury compensation damage types
There are two main types of personal injury compensation damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. These damages then split into additional categories.
- Compensatory damages reimburse (ie compensate) you for the costs associated with their injury. Compensatory damages should be available in almost all personal injury cases.
- Punitive damages punish the party responsible for causing you harm. They aren’t related to the type of injury you or a loved one has sustained. They are also awarded much less frequently than compensatory damages.
These two types of personal injury compensation are the overarching umbrellas to all other types of compensation you can receive (excluding workers’ compensation). However, the types of personal injury compensation can and do get more specific; let’s take a look at these branches now.
Personal injury compensation: Compensatory damages
Almost all personal injury cases aim to help their clients recover compensatory damages. Note that this list is not exhaustive; always speak with a lawyer before you rule out your ability to receive compensation.
Special compensatory damages
Often called “economic damages,” this type of personal injury compensation includes quantifiable, out-of-pocket expenses. In other words, when you collect special compensatory damages, you are being reimbursed for the things you had to pay for/income you lost because of your accident.
Examples of special compensatory damages include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
Keep track of the bills, receipts, and documentation associated with the following expenses:
- Cost of hospital stays, medical bills, and medical treatments (including surgery and lab tests)
- Physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain management bills
- Expenses related to doctor’s appointments
- Cost of prescription medication
- Costs of related at-home or nursing home caretaking
- Medical transportation (including ambulance)
- Increase in living expenses
- Expenses associated with the damage of property, including repair and replacement
Was your car, bike, boat, etc. damaged during the incident that caused your injury? An experienced vehicle accident lawyer can help you recover property damages.
- Lost wages/loss of earning capacity (past and future)
Loss of wages and loss of earning capacity are technically the same thing. They both refer to the wages you lost due to your injuries up to the trial date, as well as compensation for wages your injury will keep you from earning in the future.
- Loss of irreplaceable items
Was an irreplaceable piece of property, such as a family heirloom, damaged or destroyed in the incident that caused your injury? You may be able to receive additional compensation for that lost item beyond its initial value.
- Expenses associated with canceled or altered trips
Were you planning a large or international trip prior to becoming injured? If your injury hindered you from being able to keep your original plans, you may deserve financial compensation for any associated losses you were unable to recoup.
General compensatory damages
There are costs that can be printed out on a receipt and added up to a neat figure, and then there are costs that aren’t typically quantifiable. General compensatory damages address the latter category.
Examples of general compensatory damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term physical pain resulting from the injury or treatment of that injury
- Mental anguish and emotional distress ranging from depression to insomnia to PTSD. (See our article: What is Pain and Suffering?)
- Lower quality of life
Unfortunately, many types of personal injury leave victims unable to enjoy life the way they had in the past. For example, this type of damage is often awarded to victims who have suffered an amputation or TBI as a result of their injury.
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When victims of a personal injury can’t participate in activities that previously brought them joy—activities such as taking part in their children’s’ lives, playing an instrument, or taking part in a sport—they may argue for compensation for a loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium/companionship (See wrongful death damages below)
- Physical disfigurement and impairment
Of the two types of damages, general damages are often the most confusing. For example, we are often asked questions such as, “Is pain and suffering a compensatory damage? If so, how?” Check the list above to see if any of the above general compensatory damages could apply to your case. Then, speak with your lawyer to learn how your court calculates general compensatory damages.
Wrongful death damages
Wrongful death damages are a combination of special compensatory damages and general compensatory damages that are applicable only within wrongful death cases. Surviving members of the victim receive these damages.
Examples of wrongful death compensatory damages include:
- Funeral and burial costs (special damages): Funerals are often expensive. This type of compensation can help reimburse or offset those costs.
- Cost of medical care before the occurrence of wrongful death (special damages): When a loved one received medical care following an accident but prior to their death, their family may need help paying off the costs of their treatment.
- Loss of consortium/companionship (general damages): Loss of companionship is typically awarded to the spouse of a loved one who died in a personal injury incident. It compensates for the emotional distress associated with the loss of a relationship.
- Loss of financial contribution (general damages): This compensation offsets the loss of the victim’s income. It is especially helpful to spouses with children or spouses who were not the primary breadwinners.
- Emotional distress/mental anguish of surviving family members (general damages): Similar to the emotional distress/mental anguish compensatory damages awarded to injured individuals, these damages are meant to help surviving family members move forward with their lives after the wrongful death of a loved one.
Personal injury compensation: Punitive damages
As mentioned previously, punitive damages aren’t meant to compensate you for your losses. They punish the party responsible for your personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. If the court believes that the amount of compensatory damages awarded to you does not sufficiently deter the responsible party (the defendant) from making the same “mistake” again, they may award you with punitive damages.
The chances of the court finding reason to award punitive damages increase if the person or institution acted with maliciousness or gross negligence, committed a criminal act such as fraud or assault, or caused extensive financial issues. Persons involved in high profile cases where the responsible party is especially wealthy may also see courts award punitive damages in order to make an example of said person/institution.
How to claim compensation for a personal injury
Companies and individuals should own up to their mistakes. Skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers make it possible for clients to receive settlement amounts that cover their needs or, if necessary, to fight for their damages in court.
The Houston personal injury attorneys at Mithoff Law have spent decades helping clients receive the personal injury compensation they deserve. Our success has made us one of the most sought after personal injury firms in the nation.
If those who have caused you harm refuse to give you the amount of personal injury compensation you and your loved ones need to move forward, we can help.
Ready to bring out the big guns? Contact a Houston personal injury lawyer at Mithoff Law by calling 713-654-1122 or filling out our consultation request form online today.