Damages Recoverable in a Personal Injury Claim

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there were 355 serious accidents in Kings County, WA in 2013. Many of these accidents likely led to a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In a personal injury case, there are a variety of damages that plaintiffs can claim as related to the accident.

Common Personal Injury Damages

Generally, there are two different types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. These damages are often called special damages (economic damages) and general damages (non-economic damages).

Below are some specific damages that fit into each of these categories:

  • Economic damages: medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, future medical expenses, future lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and travel expenses as a result of the injury (such as to medical appointments).
  • Non-Economic damages:  pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, disfigurement, inability to lead a normal life, loss of consortium.

Limits to Personal Injury Damages

There is a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Washington.  Claimants generally cannot bring a claim outside of this time period.

Washington does not place any limits on the amount of damages that a jury can award in a case for either of the types of damages. There was a cap on damages, but in 1989 the Washington Supreme Court struck down that cap in the case Sofie v. Fibreboard Corp. (771 P.2d 711 (Wa. 1989)).  The court found that the limit was unconstitutional.

Washington’s comparative fault laws limit plaintiffs’ ability to recover personal injury damages, however.  Comparative fault means that a plaintiff can only collect on damages according to the proportion they are at fault for an accident.  For example, if a plaintiff is 15 percent at fault and suffered $10,000 in damages, the plaintiff can only collect $8,500 rather than the full $10,000. 

Proving Damages in Court

Damages have to be directly related to the incident that led to the claim or lawsuit, and plaintiffs usually use physical evidence to prove this causation:

  • medical records;
  • mechanic invoices;
  • psychiatric records;
  • professional estimates of future medical expenses; and
  • pay stubs.


To prove non-economic damages, plaintiffs may draw upon:

  • photos;
  • mental health records; and
  • testimony from the plaintiff and others to establish the extent of these damages.


Expert testimony may also be necessary, such as from a mental health or medical professional, to establish the extent of the emotional pain and suffering or other effects the accident has caused.

Find Legal Help in Seattle to Pursue Damages

The Washington State Department of Transportation announced in their 2012 Annual Collision Summary that there was a crash every five minutes in the state. To be sure that you receive your allotted recompense, plaintiffs with possible personal injury lawsuits should contact an attorney in their area.  An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident victim’s injuries and present comprehensive evidence to establish the victim’s damages.

The Max Meyers Law Firm is committed to helping clients in Seattle obtain appropriate relief in their cases. Contact our office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free consultation, or visit our contact page to set up your appointment.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.