Personal injury awards are divided into punitive damages and compensatory damages. Punitive damages are a penalty meant to punish the defendant for unethical behavior, and can only be awarded at trial. Compensatory damages, however, can be obtained through either a trial award or a settlement agreement. There are two types of compensatory damages in Arizona personal injury cases: special damages and general damages.
Special damages are your out-of-pocket expenses that can be clearly calculated. Examples include medical bills, lost wages, alternative child care, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, and more. These can vary on a case-by-case basis, as some expenses won’t be applicable to some families and after certain injuries.
The value of general damages isn’t so easily ascertained. These are noneconomic damages, like emotional distress, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Emotional distress is the mental pain and trauma you may feel after an accident, and can be inflicted intentionally or negligently. It is often included as part of pain and suffering. Loss of consortium or companionship represents the damage to your relationships from your injury, including the inability to be intimate with your significant other.
Many types of general damages are often thrown into one category known as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can represent both the physical and mental trauma you may experience from an accident. The most common way pain and suffering is calculated in Arizona is with the multiplier method. Your special damages will be totaled and multiplied by a number between one and five. The more serious the injuries, or the more negligent the defendant’s conduct, the higher the multiplier used will be. Your personal injury attorney will assist you by negotiating for a higher multiplier to be used, meaning a higher final award for you.
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