What Are the Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

After an accident, victims often pursue legal action against the negligent party who caused their injuries in order to secure financial compensation, also known as damages. Damages in a personal injury case are awarded to an injured person or party to help cover the costs of their losses. Although compensatory damages are the most common, different types  of financial awards can be provided, depending on the particular circumstances of each case.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory, or actual damages, are awarded to victims in direct compensation for their financial costs as well as for their pain and suffering.


Special Damages are meant to cover financial losses, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Emergency costs
  • Lost wages from work
  • Property loss
  • Bills related to hiring help for tasks you could do before the injury


General damages often deal with emotional pain. They are meant to help victims cope with their emotional losses.

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of reputation


Hedonic damages are a special type of general damages.  They are meant to serve as compensation for losing the ability to enjoy life as the victim did before the accident or injury.

Non-Compensatory or Punitive Damages

Non-compensatory damages, also known as punitive, are actually meant to punish the person or company which hurt the victim(s). Punitive damages might be offered when the behavior that caused the harm was extremely careless, reckless, or malicious behavior. The purpose of punitive damages is to discourage both the original defendant as well as others from repeating the same kind of bad behavior in the future.


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