What You Need To Know About Damages In A Personal Injury Lawsuit

Law Blog

If you have never filed a personal injury lawsuit, your main knowledge of these types of lawsuits may come from television or news reports. Many times the big cases that get a lot of spotlight include something called punitive damages. It is important to realize that punitive damages are not a normal occurrence in most personal injury lawsuits. Instead, compensatory damages are more normal. Here are some things you need to know about punitive damages and compensatory damages.

1. Compensatory Damages Are There To Compensate For Losses Related To The Accident

Compensatory damages are the first thing that is asked for in a lawsuit. These damages are calculated from losses directly related to the accident. For example, if you were in a car accident then you could ask for restitution for your loss of property (damage to your car), coverage of medical expenses, and compensation for income that you may have lost while you recovered from the accident.

Compensatory damages are usually calculated from documentation showing how much you lost in the accident. However, there are some compensatory damages that cannot be easily given a number. For instance, if in the accident you hurt your back so badly that you are now unable to stand for long periods of time you could include the loss of quality of life in your lawsuit. It is hard to put a number on having full use of facilities, but usually a judge will include an additional amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering.

All of these types of damages are considered compensatory damages because they are there to compensate the victim.

2. Punitive Damages Are Put In Place To Hurt The Guilty Party

Punitive damages are far less common, but they do happen. If the guilty party did something that was particularly reckless, negligent or horrible, then the court can award punitive damages on top of compensatory damages. Punitive damages aren't there to reimburse the victim for any losses; instead it is solely to punish the guilty party.

For instance, if you were to sue a business for causing a terrible accident to your family, and they did so with knowledge of their wrongdoing, the judge may add more money to the lawsuit to send a strong message.

In most cases you shouldn't expect to get punitive damages from your case. Instead, stick to compensatory damages and your lawyer will let you know if punitive damages should be included. Contact a local attorney, such as Huckabone O'Brien Instance Bradley Lyle, with questions about your case.


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