Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages

If you've been injured in a car accident, slip and fall, or any other type of accident, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive compensation for any injuries that occurred. If you're like many people, you may be wondering what your case is worth and how much money you'll receive. There is no standard amount that you will receive, as each personal injury case is different. Ultimately, what this comes down to is "damages." In other words, figuring out what your injuries cost you monetarily, physically, and mentally.

What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

In a personal injury case, damages are intended to make you (the plaintiff) "whole" after an injury. Sometimes, it may not be possible to make you whole, and it may be even more difficult to put a dollar figure on things like pain and suffering. However, the goal is to put you back in the position that you were in before the injury occurred. 

Compensatory damages

Most damages in a personal injury lawsuit are classified as "compensatory," meaning that they are intended to compensate you for what was lost due to the accident or injury. The goal is to make you "whole" again from a monetary standpoint. Sometimes, compensatory damages are relatively easy to quantify, such as when you're being reimbursed for medical bills or property damage. However, it's often more difficult to place a monetary value on pain and suffering or the inability to do certain things due to the physical limitations caused by an injury.

Here are some of the most common compensatory damages in a personal injury case:

  • Medical treatment: For the most part, a personal injury damages award includes the cost of medical care associated with the accident. This includes being reimbursed for the treatment you've already received as well as for the estimated cost of the medical care you'll need in the future.
  • Income: If you've been injured, you may be entitled to compensation for the impact the accident had on your salary and wages. This includes money you've already lost but also the money you would have been able to make in the future if it weren't for the accident.
  • Property loss: If your vehicle, clothing, or other items were damaged or lost during the accident, you'll likely receive compensation for repairs or for the fair market value of the property that was lost.
  • Pain and suffering: You may be entitled to compensation if you experience severe pain or discomfort after an accident or for any ongoing pain you experience that is attributed to the accident.
  • Emotional distress: Emotional distress is usually linked to more serious accidents and is meant to compensate you for the psychological impact of an accident. This includes fear, anxiety, and loss of sleep.
  • Loss of enjoyment: When your injuries caused by an accident keep you from enjoying day-to-day activities such as hobbies and exercise, you may be entitled to receive "loss of enjoyment" damages.
  • Loss of consortium: In a personal injury case, "loss of consortium" damages relate to the impact your injuries have on your relationship with your spouse or family.

Punitive damages

Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to make you "whole," punitive damages are essentially used to punish the at-fault party (the defendant) for the negligent or illegal activity that resulted in you being injured or harmed. The rationale is that if the at-fault party has to pay a large amount of money, they may think twice about engaging in reckless behavior again.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else's negligence - don't delay. Contact the Dellutri Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation! Call us at (800) 391-4337.