Understanding the Different Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Understanding the Different Types of Damages in a Personal Injury CaseIf you or a loved one suffers an injury due to someone else’s negligence in Illinois, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Car accident victims are often unsure how the process works and if they qualify. The confusion might stem from the amount of economic, non-economic, or punitive damages a person can receive.

It is essential to understand your rights and the damages you could recover. Personal injury accidents can be life-altering, and victims deserve a fair settlement offer. The local personal injury attorneys at Glisson Law can instruct you on what damages apply to your case and assess the potential worth of your case.

Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are the most common types of damages awarded in personal injury cases and are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic.


If you sustain an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you might face significant medical bills and other financial losses. These monetary losses, known as economic damages, make up a substantial part of the claim. In some instances, our team will employ the assistance of economists when calculating these losses.

These tangible losses usually come with receipts or documentation. Our team will gather proof of out-of-pocket expenses, medical expenses, and lost wages. Typically, these damages include:

  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Property damage losses
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Transportation costs
  • Hospital bills
  • Assistive devices


While these damages also fall under compensatory damages, they are different from economic damages because they do not have receipts attached. Non-economic damages are subjective or personal, making them challenging to calculate without the help of financial experts and legal representation. These damages, sometimes referred to as pain and suffering damages, may include:

  • Loss of quality of life
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Psychological trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement

When calculating your compensatory damages, your local personal injury attorney will add up all your calculable expenses.  A multiplier method, which involves multiplying your economic damages by a set number between 1 and 5, is often used to calculate non-economic damages.  Our team will combine both totals to determine your case valuation.

Punitive Damages

These damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions. They are non-compensatory, often apply to cases involving wanton or cruel actions, and are awarded separately from compensatory damages. Punitive damages also serve as a deterrent to others from participating in the same type of conduct.

Determining personal injury settlement amounts

Calculating your compensation will depend on the types of damages. There are different ways to calculate economic and non-economic damages. As we mentioned, economic damages are quantifiable, making them easier to calculate. If a person loses their earning capacity, an economic expert could be called on to calculate the extent of the losses, considering the following factors:

  • Health
  • Age
  • Work history
  • Promotion history
  • Pay rate
  • Impairment rating

Non-economic damages do not have receipts and are more challenging to assess. While the multiplier method is the most popular method, the per diem rate is sometimes used. The per diem rate involves assigning a daily rate for every day the person suffered while they were recovering. Insurance companies sometimes use recent local verdicts to calculate the per diem rate. Punitive damages can vary depending on the jury and other factors including damage caps which limit punitive damages in many locations.

What you should know about damage caps

Part of understanding your compensation options is considering damage caps, financial limits set by the state that limit compensation awards for individuals who suffer an injury. The one exception is medical malpractice lawsuits, as the United States government places a $250,000 cap on non-economic and economic damages. Sometimes caps can be implemented for economic and non-economic damages, and while a jury can award these damages, they could find their hands tied due to state damage caps. Illinois previously had strict damage caps, but compensation is now left to the court’s discretion.

To be reimbursed for losses caused by someone’s negligence, you will need to submit a claim to the insurance company documenting your losses and requesting compensation. Having a solid demand package can help you obtain a full damage award.

Some injury victims do not receive the compensation they are entitled to, but our team will aggressively pursue fair compensation for you. The Alton-based personal injury attorneys at Glisson Law have been helping injured clients for over three decades. We are based in Alton and serve clients throughout Southwestern Illinois and Missouri in Edwardsville, St. Clair, Belleville, and Madison Counties. Call or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case review with our team to discuss your case today.