In the world of insurance, damages include lost income, injuries, and any damaged property that is incurred by the claimant. "Special damages" is a phrase used to represent the dollar figure of each of these categories.
Anything that affects the final payout falls into general damages. However, special damages are things that are represented by documented figures. When an injured person has to receive medical treatment, this person has to deal with doctor's fees, ambulance fees and medication. These damages come documented with a bill, so no guesswork needs to be done to decide how much this all costs.
Besides medical special damages, there are also damages that occur indirectly. This is when lost wages comes into the picture. If the injury causes someone to miss a week of work, the person who is liable for the injuries must also pay for lost wages that the injured person has to deal with.
If the injuries aren't so serious, there isn't too much more to do than to add up the figures and make a demand.
As the injuries become more serious, the damages increase also. When the injury is so impacting that it will be long lasting or even permanent, the insurance company has to determine how much the disability is worth. The figure will then be added to already existing damages. In this case, having a lawyer to work by your side is best.
These extra damages can include a lot of things. For example, medical bills in the future as well as any sort of lost opportunities. Even injuries that aren't too serious but cause pain is a sort of damage in itself. For some injuries, the pain can come back for years to come. If a scar is visible on the injured person's body, this can be seen as a lifetime potential embarrassment, which has been put under a category as a type of suffering. With all of these damages, a dollar figure is negotiated and then put together to add to the special damages list.
While the list of damages seems to be long already, you still have punitive damages to consider. Punitive means "to inflict punishment." In those more serious and longer lasting injuries, it's the punitive damages that often cause outstandingly large insurance settlements, like the ones you hear on the news.
A lot of the time, the dollar figure won't get too high. Punitive damages are usually determined with a formula that multiplies special damages 1.5 to 5 times, and in other cases, the number can get a little higher.
The last things to mention about special damages and punitive damages is obvious, at least it should be. All of the damages that you claim in your personal injury settlement demand have to be 100% related to the accident.
It usually becomes clear that someone in the accident was at fault, but this doesn't make them responsible for paying things that they did not damage. Whether it's because of abuse of the system, wrong diagnoses, or misunderstanding, claims are sometimes brought forward that are not related to the accident or the newly received injuries.
This is just one more reason why documents are important. The insurance company has the ability and the right to question whether injuries brought to the claim are pre-existing or happened after the incident.
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