If you were injured as a result of someone else’s actions, one thing that is probably at the front of your mind is compensation. Receiving compensation in a personal injury lawsuit is straightforward, but the average person may not fully understand how it works. There are some legal terms that you could benefit from learning, as well as little distinctions that make a tangible difference. This guide will explain everything you need to know about personal injury compensation.


In a personal injury lawsuit, the compensation will be referred to as damages. This essentially refers to the damages that you suffered, and the compensation needed to make up for the damages. However, it may be a bit counter-intuitive that the compensation itself is referred to as damages. There are three types of damages that all losses can be categorized into. No matter how you suffered, it will fall into one of these three categories.

Types of Damages

Let’s explore the three types of damages and what types of losses fall into each category. They are:

  • Special Compensatory Damages – Despite the colorful name, this is the most basic type of compensation. Everything that has an objective monetary value is special compensatory damages. Essentially, if you can name the exact dollar value you lost, it is in this category. For example, a hospital bill of $1,900 would be special compensatory damages.
  • General Compensatory Damages – This type of damage is the opposite of special compensatory damages. It covers everything that only has subjective value. If you cannot objectively say what the dollar value of your loss is, then it is a general compensatory damage. The most common type of general compensatory damage is pain and suffering. The judge will have to decide how much the defendant must pay you to cover these types of damages.
  • Punitive Damages – This type of damage is completely different from the other two. Punitive damages are assigned not to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the defendant. The defendant must pay the victim an amount the judge decides covers the action.

Most personal injury cases are composed almost entirely of special compensatory damages. It is extremely common for some general compensatory damage to be added in, since a painful experience is essentially guaranteed in injury cases. Punitive damages are very rare in personal injury cases, but they do happen sometimes if the defendant was acting especially irresponsibly, such as by driving drunk. An attorney, like a personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee, WI from Hickey & Turim, SC, will be able to tell you more.