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What Are Special Damages?
(3 Different Types & How to Calculate It)

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

You may be eligible for monetary compensation if you are injured due to someone else's negligence. This includes accidents at work, falls or slips in public places, and car collisions, amongst other circumstances.

Compensatory damages in personal injury cases typically consist of general and special damages if your claim is successful. Therefore one must familiarize themselves with their legal rights and options when faced with such a situation.

With a decade of legal experience, I will explain all you need to know regarding special damages and how they differ from general damages.

Quick Summary

  • Not only are special damages related to contract losses, but they can also damage a business's reputation and missed profits.
  • Special damages resulting from personal injuries are definitively manifested in the form of medical expenses.
  • To get the money you deserve, you need to show that you have a good reason for your claim.

What Are Special Damages?

An attorney writing about special damagesSpecial damages are compensation awarded to cover any financial losses or expenses incurred due to an injury. They are also known as economic damages.

This includes medical costs, lost wages, etc. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to prove that the negligence of another party caused these damages and that there were no other contributing factors [1].

In the context of property damage, for example, in a car accident, should another party be held responsible (or their insurance company), they will owe an amount reflective of the value of the other driver's totaled vehicle.

Types of Special Damages

When assessing the type of special damages applicable to a particular personal injury case, various factors may come into play; some typical special damages examples include:

  • Covering lost wages and loss of earning capacity
  • Covering the expenses of procuring help with household tasks that an injured person is no longer able to do themselves
  • Covering the loss of irreplaceable items

What Factors Determine the Number of Special Damages Calculated?

A lawyer explaining how special damages are calculatedFactors that determine the number of special damages calculated are based on the proof of loss that the plaintiff can present. This includes evidence such as medical bills, receipts, or invoices detailing current and future expenses, etc.

Any documents that demonstrate the total cost of your injury damages, such as receipts, should be included. However, these aren't all that can be requested with special damages. 

You may seek additional financial compensation depending on your personal injury case and circumstances.

The top three compensatory damages could include:

  • Short-term medical expenses - Short-term medical expenses may include doctor visits, hospital bills, and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with prescribed drugs, diagnostic tests, and inpatient care.
  • Long-term medical expenses - If your injuries necessitate lengthy physiotherapy or other medical treatments due to the accident, you may be eligible to seek compensation under special damages.
  • Loss of earnings- If your salary has been reduced or you've lost out on a bonus, incentive, or another benefit due to your injuries that have caused you to be absent from work for an extended period, compensation for loss of income may apply.

What Are the Requirements to Secure Special Damages?

A woman attorney writing the requirements to secure special damages

The requirements to secure special damages are evidence of the economic loss suffered by the injured party.

Types of proof that you could use to prove damages in a personal injury case include:

  • Expert Witnesses or Eye Witnesses- If the defendant does not concede responsibility for your accident, your lawyer may require any witnesses to submit a declaration of what they witnessed.
  • Camera recordings- To prove how your accident took place, one powerful strategy is to acquire CCTV footage for a personal injury claim as soon as possible - because it's not often stored beyond a specific period.
  • Medical notes- If you received medical treatment from a G.P. surgery or hospital, your detailed medical records could be essential for proving the severity of your injuries. This can also include details regarding how long recovery may take.
  • Photographs- Capture the accident scene before anything is changed; you could use these pictures to show what caused your injuries. Be sure to document everything accurately, so nothing goes unaccounted for in court.

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Special Damages vs General Damages in Personal Injury Claims

There are two types of damages in a personal injury case- special or economic damages and general or non-economic damages.

Both categories offer financial compensation for the victim's physical, emotional, and financial losses due to the incident.

Knowing the distinction between damage types is essential when filing a personal injury claim, as it will help you understand what type of compensation may be available.

General Damages

General Damages are non-economic losses suffered during a personal injury claim, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of companionship or consortium, and more.

These damages are not easily quantifiable as they cannot be assigned a set monetary value [2].

‘Special’ or ‘consequential’ damages may fall within the second limb, requiring the prior common contemporaneous knowledge of the parties as to the probable result of the breach.
- Simon Plunkett, Attorney

Types of General Damages

An attorney writing about general damages

When discussing TORT claims, the legal term "general damages" relates to losses that can be hard to quantify accurately.

Examples of general damages include:

  • Physical pain
  • Loss of companionship
  • Lower quality of life
  • Mental anguish


Is There a Specific Dollar Amount Associated With Both Special and General Damages?

No, a specific dollar amount is associated with special damages but not general ones. Calculating special damages is simple because their monetary worth has been specified on receipts. This saves time and effort in comparison to the estimation of general damages.

Are Both Types of Damages Easy to Calculate?

No, both types of damages are calculated differently. Special damages are easy to calculate because it is associated with a specific dollar amount; however, general damages are pretty tricky to calculate. After all, there is no exact dollar amount associated.

Do States Impose Caps on Damages?

No, not all states impose caps on damages. When it comes to personal injury cases, a "damage cap" can be a beneficial tool. This legal term indicates that you will only receive specific compensation for your injuries and losses, thus "capping" the maximum amount you could recover in court.

Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one have been injured, don't hesitate to contact Shmidt & Clark, LLP. With a free consultation session, you can meet with an experienced personal injury attorney who will help you identify all of your available compensation options and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entire process of your personal injury lawsuit.