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What Kinds of Damages Can You Sue for in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

This content has been reviewed by Jason D. Stone

If you or a loved one experienced injuries from an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your losses and suffering.

In a lawsuit, compensation, or damages, are meant to restore the injured party to the position they were in before the accident took place. In Massachusetts, compensatory damages are broken down into special (economic) and general (non-economic) damages.

While compensatory damages are meant to repay a victim for their suffering and loss, punitive damages seek to punish the offender for their actions rather than reimburse someone. In Massachusetts, punitive damages may only be awarded in the case of wrongful death.

Special Damages

Compensatory damages are applicable in most cases involving injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, slip-and-fall cases, and dog bites. If you can prove you suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recuperate your losses.

An accident victim may pursue special damages for quantifiable losses, including medical bills, loss of income, or loss of future earnings and property damage.

General Damages

You can also sue for damages that have no exact monetary value, known as general damages. Pain and suffering is the most common category of general or non-economic damages and includes physical suffering but also extends to mental suffering, such as emotional suffering or PTSD.

General damages can also include the loss of personal enjoyment and loss of companionship. This may apply if, for example, you are incapacitated and can no longer perform regular everyday functions with others. Since it is difficult to quantify these damages, your attorney can help you evaluate how much they may be worth.

Massachusetts has a cap on general or non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, meaning the plaintiff can only recover a maximum of $500,000. The exception to this limitation is if they can prove that this amount does not sufficiently compensate for their impairment of bodily function, disfigurement, or other circumstances.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are usually awarded to a plaintiff in addition to special and general damages for levels of misconduct that warrant both punishment and future deterrence. However, Massachusetts residents cannot sue for punitive damages except for a wrongful death case.

Massachusetts law states that wrongful death is constituted by a willful reckless act, negligence, or breach of warranty. In other words, you can only sue for punitive damages in Massachusetts if a loved one has died because of someone else’s careless or deliberate actions. You may only file the claim if you are appointed the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate.

This can apply in cases involving:

  • An accident caused by gross negligence (such as a car accident)
  • An intentional act (violent crime)

A wrongful death claim can be filed if the deceased would have had grounds for a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. You cannot file a wrongful death claim in Massachusetts against an employer if an employee died on the job or against a railroad company if a person was killed on the train tracks.

Statute of Limitations

To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, you must file before the statute of limitations runs out, and this window is three years for personal injury claims in Massachusetts. Although it may seem like sufficient time, a considerable amount of investigation may be required to identify defendants and expert witnesses.

In most cases, the three-year period begins from the date of the accident. However, if you sustained injuries that did not become evident until weeks or months later, you may have three years from the date of discovery. If you are filing a personal injury claim against a government agency, city, or county, you have two years to file a formal claim and three years to file a lawsuit.

Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you have been involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact Massachusetts personal injury lawyers at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

While there is no formula in Massachusetts to determine the amount of damages you may be awarded, an experienced personal injury lawyer at our law firm can help build your case and ensure it is not settled for less than it is worth.

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