Types of Damages Available for Personal Injury Victims

Personal Injury Court Hearing Doc

If someone’s act of negligence causes you physical, emotional, or psychological injury, you can sue the person for damages. Be it an auto accident, medical malpractice, slip, and fall, or workplace accident, the law is in your favor, so far as you weren’t at fault. 

There are two main ways to seek compensation after a personal injury. 

  • Both parties (victim and defendant) can agree on an out-of-court compensation package. For example, in an auto accident, the at-fault driver can rely on his/her auto insurance company to pay the victim’s compensation claim. He/she can agree to top-up in case the claim is not enough, to prevent a lawsuit. Also, in a medical malpractice or workplace injury, the defendant can use internal mechanisms to settle the case out-of-court. 
  • The victim taking legal action against the offender. This becomes necessary if the defendant tries to bully their way out by offering a peanut as compensation or refuses any kind of settlement. In such a scenario, lawyers at a San Diego law firm, The Barnes Firm San Diego, says “the victim(s) can sue the defendant for compensation.” “The victims just need to have enough evidence to back their claims.”

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should know the applicable damages available for your case. What is the end game after going to court? There are several types of damages for personal injury. But as a victim, you should explore just a few, maybe two damages options when filing for a personal injury claim. Let’s look at the 3 types of personal injury damages.

  • Compensatory damages

If you are seeking to get something out of the defendant, then you can file for compensatory damage. Compensation for a personal injury case can come in economic, non-economic damages, or both. Like any other personal injury claim, you need to put up strong evidence and defense to get compensation. 

It is advisable to hire an attorney when you are expecting huge compensation based on the severity of the injury. An experienced attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case. depending on the case, you may need to document the time, day, witness accounts, and medical and police report among others. So, compensatory damages include:

  • Economic damages 

This is when you pray the court to force the defendant to offer you financial compensation for a personal injury. It involves direct costs and other losses resulting from the accident. This may include medical costs, loss of wages throughout the recovery period, loss of income if the accident has rendered you incapacitated, and other expenses deemed fit. It is much easier to calculate economic damages since receipts of bills are mostly available. Also, wage losses can be easily calculated. 

  • Non-economic damages

Unlike economic damages that focus on economic losses, non-economic damages cater to damages suffered physically, emotionally, psychologically, etc. These include physical pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, mental injuries, loss of lifestyle, reduced quality of life, etc. 

Non-economic damages are very difficult to calculate. For example, how can anyone measure the kind of pain a victim of an accident is enduring? How will anyone know the devastating nature of losing a loved one through an accident? However, with the help of a competent attorney, a victim can get reasonable compensation. 

The amount you can receive for non-economic damage depends on the severity of the injury and your state laws governing that. Some states have set limits, as to how much compensation a victim can receive in that regard. So, be cognizant of your state laws governing such compensation before filing a non-economic damages lawsuit. 

  • Punitive damages 

Hardly do people pursue punitive damages, because it goes beyond negligence on the defender’s part. In any case, the results wouldn’t affect your other damages claim. If you sue for compensatory and punitive damages, the judgment from the punitive damage case wouldn’t affect the former. 

You should only pursue punitive damages if you are sure that the defendant committed the offense on purpose. You need to demonstrate beyond doubt that the offender knew that their action could cause harm, yet did it.

If found guilty, the defendant will be punished for committing such a reckless act. They are given a prison sentence, monetary fine, or both depending on what the jury deems fit. This is to serve as a deterrent to others.


Though you can always file a lawsuit on your own, it is very important to hire an attorney when suing for complex cases like personal injury claims. Your ignorance of the details of the law can end you with no or less compensation. Should you choose to hire an attorney, look for an experienced lawyer, who is well vest in that field.

Interesting Related Article: “Dealing with a Life Changing Personal Injury