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Special Damages

Definition - What does Special Damages mean?

Special damages, under tort law, are compensation awarded to a plaintiff following an injury claim. Special damages are considered quantifiable, financial losses which can easily be determined. The goal of this type of compensation to is return the injured party to the position they were in prior to the injury.

For example, if you were injured in a car accident and broke your leg and missed two weeks of work you might file an automobile claim to seek damages for your losses, which could include medical expenses, repair to your motor vehicle, and payment for the current and future loss of earnings. All of these payments would be considered special damages.

Special damages, including past and future medical expenses related to the personal injury, repairing or replacing damaged property, and future and current lost wages or earning capacity of the victim, can be contrasted with other compensation such as general damages, which may be awarded for intangible loss (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish or loss of consortium).

Unlike special damages, which can be easily calculated, calculating general damages is much more subjective and may be a greater point of contention in a personal injury lawsuit.

Calculating special damages after a personal injury claim

As mentioned above, calculating special damages may not be too difficult. You will simply need to find all of your bills related to the injury and add them together.

When the insurance adjuster receives your demand for payment they will first determine whether they believe they are liable for your injuries, review how you calculated your settlement amount, and determine if they believe it is based on sound, legitimate, documented evidence.

Calculating general damages, however, may be much more difficult. If you have suffered pain and suffering and need help calculating what you may be owed, you may want to discuss your case with an injury lawyer.

Special Damages and Contract Law

Just to make it all a bit more confusing, the terms general damages and special damages are reversed under contract law. In contract disputes special damages are the losses which are a result of the breach of contract but are not calculable or foreseeable.

According to Free Dictionary, however, "general damages include the difference between contract and market prices, the difference between the value of the goods as delivered and as warranted, and interest on money that has been wrongfully withheld."

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