GENERAL AND SPECIAL DAMAGES
Louisiana law provides a person who injures or damages another person must pay the injured person’s damages. The injured person (plaintiff) must prove his or her damages by a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means that the wrongdoer’s act or inaction more probably than not injured the plaintiff. In a criminal case, the penalty is jail or death. But in a civil case, the remedy is money damages.
The civil law provides for compensatory damages (money), which includes general and special damages. In certain limited situations, the law provides for punitive damages.
General damages are speculative and cannot be fixed with mathematical certainty. Your body produces no receipt for how it has suffered. So, jurors must consider all the evidence dealing with pain and suffering. And they need to use their common sense to arrive at a just verdict. These damage include:
- physical pain and suffering;
- mental anguish, anxiety, and distress;
- loss of intellectual gratification of physical enjoyment;
- permanent or temporary disability and loss of physical functions of the body;
- past and future loss of the enjoyment of life;
- any other factors that affect the victim’s life that cannot be definitely measured in terms of money.
Unlike general damages, special damages are meant to restore plaintiffs to the financial position they would have been in if they had not been wrongly injured. These damages can be fixed with mathematical certainty and include the following:
- past medical bills,
- estimated future medical expenses,
- past wage or economic losses,
- future loss or reduction of wage losses,
- loss of company or employment benefits,
- damages to the plaintiff’s property.
In summary, general damages address intangible losses like pain and suffering, while special damages cover concrete, measurable financial losses. We spend a great deal of time getting to know our clients and to best understand how their injuries have impacted their lives, putting us in the best position to properly explain to a judge and jury the nature and extent of our client’s general damages through stories and examples.