Personal Injury | September 1, 2022 by JOSHUA D. ANDERSON

How to Determine Damages in a Personal Injury Case

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A personal injury case can leave your head spinning. Between doctors’ appointments, medical expenses, lost income, and added stress, you may be left wondering what your next steps should be.

In Washington state, there are two courts that handle personal injury cases: district or superior court, depending on the number of damages at issue. Your attorney can identify which court should hear your case.

Most people that are involved in a car accident may wonder how much their case is worth. Luckily, the attorneys at Anderson Law | Injury Attorneys have a proven track record in successfully guiding their clients through personal injury cases from start to finish. Let our team help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Proving Negligence

The first step in proving fault is establishing whether or not the other driver was negligent. Negligence is characterized by a person’s failure to exercise the degree of care that an ordinary person would have exhibited in the same situation.

In order to prove negligence, the following four components must be satisfied:

  • Duty: the defendant (the party being sued) had a duty to exercise reasonable care;
  • Breach: the defendant broke that duty through an act or omission;
  • Causation: the injury to the plaintiff (injured party) was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions; and
  • Damages: as a result of the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff has suffered injuries.

If one of these four components is not met, then the defendant may have grounds for the plaintiff’s case to be dismissed.

Compensatory Damages

Once you can prove the other party’s liability, then your attorney can present evidence of any damages, or losses, that you suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions.

The two main categories in which you are normally eligible for compensation are special and general damages.

Special Damages

Special damages are tangible and can be easily given a monetary value. Given that special damages are easily quantifiable, they are often referred to as “economic damages.”

Special damages include:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Long-term care
  • Property damage

General Damages

General damages refer to any intangible injuries that are not as easily quantifiable but have inhibited a person’s ability to live a normal life. Considering that general damages affect a person’s quality of life instead of their pocketbook, they are often referred to as “non-economic damages.” In Washington state, general damages are commonly called “pain and suffering” damages.

General damages include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement

Can I Recover Damages If I am Partially At Fault?

In Washington state, you may receive compensation for your injuries, even if you are partially responsible for the accident.

Washington state follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine. Simply stated, this means that a claimant can collect damages even if they were mostly at fault for the accident. The contribution of fault for each party proportionally reduces the amount awarded in compensatory damages.  Approximately 1/3 of the states follow this rule.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near You

Anderson Law | Injury Attorneys have been proudly serving western Washington state since 2008. If you have been injured, contact our office for a free case evaluation. We do not get paid unless you win.

The information contained on this website is intended for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Nothing in this website establishes an attorney-client relationship between us. Different facts can dramatically affect a legal opinion. You should consult an attorney for legal advice that pertains to your personal situation.


Joshua D. Anderson

Joshua D. Anderson grew up in Enumclaw, Washington with a close-knit family who instilled in him the values of faith, family, and hard work. Since a young age, Josh knew he wanted to be an attorney so he could advocate for others and always knew his focus would be personal injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of San Diego and graduated Cum Laude from Seattle University School of Law. While pursuing his degree, Josh served as an extern for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.