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Compensation Available in a Personal Injury Case: General Damages

In a previous post, we kicked off a blog series discussing the compensation available to someone who suffers an injury as a result of someone else's fault. The previous blog provided an overview of the United States tort system, discussed damages generally, and delved into the concept of special damages.

In this blog post, we focus on general damages. General damages compensate an injured person for non-monetary harm suffered as a result of someone else's fault. Examples include physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss of physical or mental capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life. Like special damages, general damages can be past or future.

General damages are not easily quantifiable and are typically based on the particular facts of a case. In Minnesota, juries are given factors to consider in making this determination. These factors include

1. The type, extent, and severity of the injuries;

2. How painful the injuries were;

3. The treatment and pain involved in that treatment;

4. The length of time the injury or harm lasted or is likely to last; and

5. Any other factors the jury feels are relevant.

As discussed in the previous blog, the injured person has the burden of proving damages to a reasonable certainty.

It is also worthwhile to note that family members may have a claim for general damages in a personal injury case. For example, if your spouse is injured, you have a claim for general damages. The United States tort system understands that when a spouse is injured, the dynamics of the marriage can change dramatically. Injuries often restrict activities couples enjoy, such as hiking, biking, tennis, gardening, etc. The list goes on and on. If your spouse is injured, your claim for damages includes the loss of your spouse's services and companionship that you would have received in the usual course of married life. There are also circumstances where a parent can be compensated for injuries to their children.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else's conduct, it is important to contact a lawyer right away. The attorneys at Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens have extensive experience handling personal injury claims and are always available for a free consultation.

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