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What Is The Difference Between General And Special Damages In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The monetary award granted in New Orleans personal injury lawsuits is referred to as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are divided into two broad categories: special damages and general damages.

Special damages are those damages for which – at least to some degree – an objective dollar value can be determined. This includes categories such as medical expenses and loss of earnings. Special damages have a fixed value based on actual monetary losses associated with the plaintiff’s injuries.

In contrast, general damages are inherently speculative and cannot be fixed with mathematical certainty. General damages consist of categories such as pain and suffering, and mental anguish. They also may include an award for scarring or disfigurement. Because people’s opinions vary widely regarding the dollar value of such items, awards for general damages can be inconsistent from case to case, although they generally fall within a certain range.

While an award that is inconsistent with prior similar cases may be subject to review by a higher court, the Louisiana Supreme Court has taken steps to curb a higher court from inserting its own view of the value of a case. Before an appellate court can alter an award, it must find that the record supports a finding that the lower court abused its discretion in reaching the amount of damages awarded. The Louisiana Supreme Court has also noted that the discretion of the judge or jury in awarding general damages is vast and should seldom be disturbed by a higher court.

If you have suffered a personal injury in New Orleans and have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to call our office at 504-581-6411 or 877-581-6411.