When seeking compensation in a personal injury case, you may have some confusion regarding the difference between the terms ‘general damages’ and ‘special damages’.

While it is possible to obtain both general and special damages, it is important to know the difference and if they are applicable to your circumstances of your injury.

What are general damages?

General damages, in terms of seeking compensation, generally refer to pain, suffering, or the inability to function in a certain manner following an accident/injury.

Examples of factors that are considered when awarding general damages include physical pain, psychological injuries, bodily disfigurement, and a reduced quality of life as the result of an injury.

What are special damages?

Special damages differ to general damages in that their purpose is to reimburse the claimant for any out-of-pocket expenses they may have accrued as a result of their injury/accident caused by a third or negligent party. In essence, their purpose is to put the claimant back in to the same financial position that they were in prior to the event in question.

For example, if the claimant has been injured through no fault of their own and cannot work for an extended period of time, special damages would compensate for the loss of earnings.

Other examples of factors that are considered when awarding special damages include childcare costs, household costs, travel expenses, and medical treatments.

Is a claimant guaranteed both general and special damages in a personal injury case?

Not necessarily. In order to be awarded general damages, you must first prove that your injury occurred due to the negligence of a third party.

In order to be awarded special damages, you must also be able to prove that your injury led to a loss of earnings, increased costs, and/or the inability to pay expenses.

As with any legal claim that you are pursuing, it is strongly advised that you seek the advice of an experienced solicitor to ensure that the chances of winning your case and being awarded compensation are maximised.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*