Special damages are awarded in a legal action to a person or corporate entity who has been wronged or harmed. Unlike general damages, which are meant to compensate for intangibles such as pain and suffering, this type of compensation is meant to cover out of pocket expenses the plaintiff has incurred. There is always a specific dollar figure being sought in this type of legal remedy.
One of the types of expenses that falls under the category of special damages is lost wages. The injured person is entitled to be compensated for the financial loss he or she incurred while recovering from injuries sustained in an accident. In the case of a person who is disabled and unable to work due to the extent of their injuries, the damage award may contain an amount for loss of future earnings.
Special damages may also be awarded to provide compensation for medical bills and related expenses. These damages may be subject to a subrogation claim by the plaintiff's medical insurance company. This is a standard practice among insurers which exists for their financial protection.
The plaintiff's health insurer pays benefits under the policy up to its lifetime limits. The company keeps records of the amounts it paid out in connection with expenses incurred as the result of the accident. If the plaintiff is successful in recovering monetary compensation to pay for his or her medical expenses, this portion of the settlement is forwarded to the health insurance company in settlement of its subrogated claim.
This type of claim also comes into play when the special damages are awarded to compensate the driver of a vehicle damaged in an accident for repair costs. The insurer pays out on the policy and if the vehicle owner receives compensation for the same damages from the other driver or his or her insurance company, the owner's insurance company may attempt to recover the amount that it paid out earlier. A policyholder can find a reference to this type of provision in the policy language.
If the compensation being sought is the type that can be supported with a specific dollar value or receipts for money paid out, then it falls under the category of special damages. The court then determines if these expenses were incurred as the result of the defendant's actions or negligence. If so, then the plaintiff may be compensated for the loss.