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What Is the Difference Between General, Special, and Punitive Damages?



When you are successful in your lawsuit, you may be awarded “damages” to help cover the costs associated with your injuries. There is some confusion between the types of damages and what they include. Here is a simple breakdown of the differences between the most common damages: general, special, and punitive damages. Remember, if you have a question about the specific damages you may be requesting for your personal injury case, contact your attorney.


General Damages

General damages are a type of injury that is difficult to calculate. This includes pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, and other emotional or psychiatric damages. While it is hard to put a monetary value on these damages, a person who has suffered these losses should still be compensated.

Special Damages

Special damages are those costs that are easily assigned a monetary value. These include medical costs, repair costs, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses a victim has incurred. Saving your bills and receipts is critical to being able to calculate your special damages accurately. Provide this information to your attorney as soon as you are able to. It can help get compensation for the costs you have already incurred or will incur in the future.


Punitive Damages

In most cases, punitive damages are not awarded. These are damages that are ordered to punish a defendant’s harmful behavior. For a plaintiff to receive punitive damages, the actions were intentional or wanton and willful misconduct. If you have been involved in a case where you think punitive damages are warranted, speak with your attorney. They can help you request punitive damages at the right stage in your case.


Now that you know the differences between general, special, and punitive damages, you can understand how you can be compensated. If you have any questions, contact the Law Offices of Tanya Gomerman at 415-545-8608 today. We are happy to schedule you for a free consultation.

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