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General & Special Damages

View profile for Neeta Roopra
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General & Special Damages

What are general damages in a personal injury claim?

General damages will be calculated based on the level of pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of your accident.

General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct physical and/or psychological effects of an accident. If you are injured in an accident, you will likely experience pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Loss of amenity means the inability to complete activities, either temporarily or permanently, after an accident, which could be undertaken before, e.g. being unable to pursue certain hobbies or socialise with friends.

Putting it simply, this is an award designed to compensate you for the actual injuries suffered, and the effect those have had on your quality of life.

What are special damages in a personal injury claim?

Special damages, on the other hand, compensate for out-of-pocket costs and expenses incurred due to the accident and injury. The aim is to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had the accident not occurred.

If you are unsure whether you can claim for a certain loss or expense, the test is to think – if not for the injury from the accident, would it have been incurred? If the answer is – No, it is likely to be something you can claim for.

However, an injured person has a duty to take reasonable steps to minimise their losses/expenses. This is called mitigating your losses and a Court will assess whether or not the loss was reasonably incurred, before making an award.

Common types of financial losses/expenses are:

  • Loss of earnings – compensation for income lost due to time off work during recovery.
  • Medical expenses – costs related to hospitalisation, doctor visits, medications, surgeries and rehabilitation.
  • Travel expenses – expenses incurred for travel to medical appointments or therapy sessions.
  • Home Modifications – adaptions needed for mobility or accessibility.
  • Care and assistance – if you require assistance with daily household and/or personal tasks, for example, by a family member or friend.