If a plaintiff brings about a successful personal injury claim, they will receive damages as monetary compensation for their injuries and costs incurred associated with the incident.
Damages in law are defined as monetary compensation that is awarded by a court in a civil action to an individual who has been injured through the wrongful conduct of another party. There are many types of damages but in personal injury law, two types of damages are awarded to plaintiffs — compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff to compensate them for their injuries and other incurred losses. Compensatory damages are meant to restore a victim financially, mentally, and physically. Compensatory damages are awarded in two categories — special damages and general damages.
Special damages compensate victims for monetary losses and are quantifiable. Examples of monetary losses plaintiffs can incur due to the incident that caused their injuries are:
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment costs
- Lost wages
- Cost of living with a disability
- Repair of damage property
- Replacement of property damaged beyond repair
- Funeral and burial expenses
General damages compensate victims for non-monetary losses. Because general damages amounts are difficult to calculate, the amount of money plaintiffs receive can vary from court to court. Examples of general damages are:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunities
- Future lost wages
Punitive damages are damages awarded that exceed simple compensation and are awarded to a plaintiff to punish a defendant for especially outrageous conduct. They try to deter others from engaging in conduct similar to the actions that caused the lawsuit.
Punitive damages are usually awarded in lawsuits in which the defendant is a company or other large entity. It is most common to see punitive damages awarded in defective product, medical malpractice, or bad faith lawsuits. Although most defendants required to pay punitive damages are entities, individuals can also be liable. Individuals can be liable for punitive damages if they made a conscious decision to engage in behavior that could easily hurt another person. For example, someone who was drinking and driving when they injured a pedestrian or other driver could be held liable for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded infrequently, and some states have a split-recovery statute in place for these damages, meaning that a portion of the punitive damages will go to the state instead of the plaintiff. Many courts also limit punitive damages to less than ten times the amount of compensatory damages in order to avoid excessive award amounts.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, it is best to reach out to an experienced lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Eglet Adams, who can assess your case and help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and the costs you’ve incurred due to the incident.