What Are Special Damages In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The Brown Firm

The Brown Firm

When you file a personal injury claim, you want to maximize your financial recovery so you can cover the expenses that resulted from your accident and injuries. 

Depending on the specifics of your accident and injuries, you may be entitled to two types of damages, general and special damages. 

General and special damages are included under the broader category of compensatory damages. 

These awards are meant to compensate the victim rather than punish the defendant.

General damages include the intangible suffering associated with your claim. 

Things like the physical pain you endure and any emotional trauma or distress resulting from the accident are general damages.

On the other hand, special damages include actual economic damages that you can quantify and calculate. These are out of pocket expenses.

Either way, to make sure you are compensated for general damages and special damages, you will need the help of a skilled personal injury to guide you through the legal process.

In the article below, we will go more in-depth about special damages in personal injury cases.

What Do Special Damages Cover?

As we mentioned above, special damages cover your losses that can easily be quantified into dollar amounts. 

In a personal injury case, there are a few types of losses included under special damages rules:

  • Lost wages or earnings, both past and future losses
  • Loss of irreplaceable items
  • Costs associated with the replacement or repair of damaged property
  • Costs that the victim spent in mitigating their own liability
  • Fees related to medical expenses 
  • Additional domestic or care-taking costs

Relief in a personal injury claim is awarded to place you in the position you would have been in if you were not injured in the accident. 

When personal injury cases make it to trial, the special damages must be clearly stated in a defined amount before the trial begins. 

Thus, calculations involving them are an essential step in determining the worth of your personal injury case.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are often the highest costs that can burden you after an accident. 

For example, if you have to recover from a traumatic brain injury, it can cost you between $85,000 and $3 million. 

Not many people have that much money lying around.

Severe injuries usually have a long-term impact on your quality of life and come with substantial medical costs. 

If you were to suffer a spinal cord injury that causes quadriplegia, you can expect to pay northing short of $1 million in medical expenses.

And that's just during the first year of recovery.

You need to keep track of all your medical bills following your accident. 

One procedure, especially a surgical procedure or an extended hospital stay, may come with multiple bills. 

Different departments process the invoices for various services, so you may receive separate bills at different times. 

It's imperative to keep track of all your bills following the accident.

This will allow you to calculate the full extent of your medical treatment costs. 

Your attorney may assist you in ensuring your medical expenses are included in your final calculation for compensation. 

Costs Directly Associated With the Accident

You may have significant economic costs associated with your accident injuries that go beyond typical medical care costs. 

You may also require home and vehicle modifications to accommodate their injuries.

Wheelchair ramps

If you're forced to use a wheelchair after your accident, you will need to make your home accessible. 

A permanent wheelchair ramp for your home can set you back between $3,500 and $8,000.

And if you need custom materials or features to retrofit the wheelchair ramp with your home's existing design, it will drive the cost up even more.    

Widened doorways

Widened doorways will also be necessary if you have to use a wheelchair. 

Even if you don't have to use a wheelchair all the time, you still deserve the convenience and flexibility of moving through your home with ease. 

Widened doorways will increase the accessibility of your home, but they will also add to your financial burden in the aftermath of your accident.    

Accessibility modifications for the bedroom and bathroom

Depending on your injuries, you may need to modify your bathroom to increase mobility.

Some people even need to purchase a hospital bed to make them comfortable at home.

Your shower or bathtub may need to be modified to increase your ability to care for yourself. 

Some accident victims also use modified toilets to make them easier to use.

Lost Wages 

After an accident, you might need to miss work to visit the hospital and evaluate their injuries. 

You may also need to miss work so you can take care of any other tasks associated with the accident.

These tasks can include contacting an insurance company or an attorney. 

If you sustain serious injuries, you may need to miss a substantial amount of time from work if you can ever return.

While you are missing work to take care of your damages, you will incur lost wages.


If you are hospitalized after your accident, you won't be able to complete everyday work tasks. 

Even more importantly, while you're hospitalized, you will need all of your focus on recovery instead of worrying about missing work. 

Many victims have to miss extended time at work due to pain, confusion, or other limitations caused by their injury.


If you're injured in an accident, you likely won't be able to take on your regular work tasks while you recover.

The amount of time you miss at work so you can recover will depend on your injuries and your job.

If you are recovering from a traumatic brain injury, you will struggle to return to any job right away. 

A traumatic brain injury will impede your ability to think on your feet or control their emotions. 

If you have a broken leg, you might be able to return to your office job within a few days or weeks after the accident. 

But, you might struggle with the more physical tasks in a factory environment.

You will need to work with your boss and your doctor to create a plan to return to work.

Your plan must not compromise your recovery, especially if you've sustained life-altering injuries. 

You may be able to return to work on a limited basis as your recovery progresses if your employer makes reasonable accommodations. 

If you're able to work from home or modify your work hours while your recovery progresses, you can decrease the amount of time you miss from work.

And, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations for your injuries when possible. 

But depending on your injuries' severity, you may require extended time to recover before making a full return to work.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Special Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits often involve complex calculations of your losses and damages. 

If you have any issues regarding your damages in a personal injury case, you need to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer for advice. 

Original Article Here

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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