I have heard of an automobile accident victim awarded money for general damages and pain and suffering. Is this true? If so, what did these terms mean?
The term “Pain and Suffering” is really the same thing as “General Damages”. A personal injury case normally has two basic types of damages: Special Damages and General Damages. Special Damages are specific dollar amount losses for items such as past and future medical bills, past and future loss of earnings and other incidental damages.
The term “General Damages” represents pain and suffering, emotional distress and other similar types of damage. General Damages are comprised of Past General Damages and Future General Damages. In many cases the largest portion of the settlement is General Damages, particularly future General Damages.
Suppose your case is settled just a month before trial is to begin and 18 months after your accident. You are compensated for past general damages by placing a value on the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you have gone through since the accident. If you were involved in a serious accident, an experienced auto accident attorney should be able to obtain a future general damage award in an even greater amount, assuming your injuries have not completely healed and your doctor says that they are permanent. In such cases, your doctor will most likely state that your injuries will result in substantial arthritic problems and you will no longer be able to enjoy many of the activities you used to do. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to bring out what you will experience over your lifetime as a result of this accident and argue how to place a value on your changed life for decades ahead. When done properly, this figure often dwarfs the past general damages figure.