When someone sustains a personal injury due to the negligent act of someone else, they may be entitled to compensation for their losses. Personal injury cases involve various types of damage, including special damages and general damages. In order to understand how a jury is instructed to award damages, we must understand the components of damages and explore a range of possible results in personal injury cases, including awards based on medical bills and significant changes in the lifestyle of the injured person.

Watch Gary discuss on WTVM Legal Break:

Click this link to watch a recent episode of Legal Break with Gary Bruce which aired on WTVM in Columbus, Georgia about damages in personal injury cases.

Special Damages:

Special damages, also referred to as economic damages, are losses that have a direct monetary value. Medical expenses and lost wages are commonly associated with special damages, but they can each be treated differently depending on the state where the case is heard and the way the numbers are presented. For instance:

Generally, special damages encompass all medical costs related to the injury. The medical bills are to be paid in Georgia for all reasonable medical expenses associated with their injuries, including diagnostic tests, consultations, and ongoing medical care.  This is true even if the bills were paid by health insurance because the law recognizes having health insurance was an expense the victim incurred and should not be a benefit to the person or company that caused the injury.  There are also issues related to reimbursement which make it much more efficient if the bills are paid and the issues relating to insurance are dealt with after the verdict.

Lost Wages are also awarded when the injury leads to a change in the victim’s ability to work, resulting in a loss of income or diminished earning capacity.  In those cases, an injured person may be entitled to compensation for that damage in the past and into the future.

OF course, compensation for damage to property is also allowed.  You usually don’t see it in a car wreck case because it generally is resolved as a separate case early on.  So, since Property damage cases can be dealt with separately it is rare that the issue arises in a personal injury case presented to a jury.

General Damages:

General damages, meaning damages for pain and suffering, are awarded for non-economic losses that do not have an exact monetary value. While it may be challenging to quantify these damages, they play a significant role in most personal injury cases, particularly when they cause a substantial change in the victim’s lifestyle. Some examples of general damages that can lead to lifestyle changes include:

Chronic Pain and Discomfort: Even if the medical bills are minimal, if the injury causes chronic pain and discomfort, the victim may be eligible for compensation to account for the impact on their daily activities, hobbies, and overall quality of life.

Loss of Enjoyment: If the injury limits the victim’s ability to engage in activities they previously enjoyed, such as sports, travel, or hobbies, they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of enjoyment and diminished quality of life.

Emotional Distress: Personal injury cases can cause significant emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Compensation for emotional distress can be awarded, considering the psychological impact on the victim’s overall well-being and lifestyle.

Examples in Columbus, Georgia

Personal injury cases in Georgia have seen a range of outcomes where victims have been awarded compensation for lifestyle changes despite minimal medical bills. We have seen every kind of verdict and result here in Muscogee County, Georgia and Russell County, Alabama – some that seemed lower than expected and some that seemed higher than anticipated.

Often a victim involved in a car accident might seem to have relatively minor injuries but experienced chronic back pain, which hindered their ability to participate in physical activities. In such cases, the jury often recognizes the impact on the injured persons’ lifestyle and has awarded significant compensation to account for the loss of enjoyment and diminished quality of life.  Medical bills for a few minutes of work by a doctor are hardly the measure of damages for a change in the life of a victim.


Personal injury cases in Columbus, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama involve both special and general damages. Special damages cover quantifiable losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, but the real challenge is proving and putting a value on the “general damages” for non-economic losses that can impact someone for the rest of their life. It is crucial to seek legal guidance to understand the complexities of personal injury law and how to present evidence in order to explain the impact of an event and maximize the compensation you deserve. If you have questions about a case, contact the Law Office of Gary Bruce for a no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team will be happy to talk to you about your options and can help advocate for your rights when your life has been changed in a wreck.