If you’re involved in a personal injury claim, you may have heard the term compensatory damages tossed around. As you deal with the emotional distress, physical recovery, and mental fatigue of your accident, making sense of the legal system can feel overwhelming.
But what exactly does compensatory damages mean in the context of a personal injury case?
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A personal injury case is one in which one person’s negligence or reckless behavior leads to someone else’s injury. The goal of these cases is not jail time for the guilty party but rather for them to provide fair compensation to the injured party to make up for what they’ve been through.
Compensatory damages are precisely this: a monetary award given to the victim in a personal injury claim to make up for all the losses the victim endured due to their injury. For example, if a person is severely injured in a car accident, they will have to pay for medical expenses and may be unable to work for some time. They may even have a lower future earning capacity if their injury limits the work they can do going forward.
Compensatory damages are intended to cover all of these expenses. To learn how you can receive fair compensation for your injuries, call a skilled personal injury lawyer at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC.
Compensatory damages are awarded to make up for specific losses an injured person has endured. There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages.
These are damages that have a specific monetary value tied to them. These expenses include lost wages, medical bills and medical expenses, property damage, burial expenses, and future expenses related to the injury. Litigation costs are sometimes included in compensatory damages, but this depends on the jurisdiction and the specific nature of the claim.
Non-economic damages are losses experienced by an injured victim that may not have a specific and inherent monetary value and are inherently more subjective. An attorney evaluates these more abstract losses and attach value to them when negotiating a settlement. These include things like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. These are sometimes also referred to as general damages.
Part of an attorney’s job in personal injury cases is to look at how the victim was impacted by their injury and will continue to be impacted. They use physical evidence, witness statements, police reports, and more first to establish that the at-fault party is, in fact, at fault.
They’ll then examine all the losses the personal injury victims suffered and essentially tally that into a final number. This number is presented to the defendant and their legal team.
The defendant and their attorney can then decide whether to accept the settlement and pay the amount asked or counter with an offer of their own. In most personal injury cases, a settlement is reached, and compensation is awarded to the plaintiff, also known as the claimant. However, if this is not possible, a trial will become necessary. Your attorney can protect you in the courtroom as well as you fight to have compensatory damages awarded.
In addition to compensatory damages, there are also punitive damages (sometimes known as exemplary damages). Compensatory damages are awarded to an injured person to help repay and compensate for their losses. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the at-fault party.
The thought behind punitive damages is that requiring the at-fault party to pay for their negligent behavior will not only dissuade them from partaking in similar wrongful behavior in the future but will also dissuade others from doing so. It sets the example that if anyone else behaves in the same manner as the guilty party, they will have to pay. Typically, a civil court only awards punitive damages in particularly egregious cases. These very often involve car accidents.
In most cases, when a civil court decides that the at-fault party must pay punitive damages, those punitive damages are delivered directly to the injured party. They are then free to use the money awarded however they wish.
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, working with an experienced personal injury attorney at Regan Zambri Long is the best route toward success and a satisfactory settlement. Our attorneys will fight for you and negotiate as you seek compensatory damages. They will ensure you never shortchange yourself by agreeing to unfair terms or accepting an unfair offer.
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us today.