Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Many personal injury damages are classified as "compensatory," this means that they are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for what was suffered due to the accident or injury. This involves putting a dollar amount on all the consequences of an incident. Some compensatory damages are relatively simple to quantify such as reimbursement for property damage and the injured plaintiff's medical bills. But it's a lot more challenging to put a monetary value on pain and suffering or the inability to enjoy regular life events because of physical limitations caused by accident-related injuries.
Here's a list of the various kinds of compensatory damages that are standard in many personal injury cases.
You may be awarded compensation for the accident's impact on your salary and wages. This includes income you've already lost and also the money you that you would have been able to make in the future, if not for the incident. In personal injury legalese, a damage award based on later income is described as compensation for your "loss of earning capacity."
Typically linked with more severe accidents, emotional distress damages are intended to compensate for a personal injury plaintiff for the psychological impact of an injury. For example, fear, anxiety, and even sleep loss due to the accident. In some states, emotional distress is part of any "pain and suffering" damage that is given to a personal injury plaintiff.
A personal injury damages award usually covers the cost of medical care associated with the accident, reimbursement for medical treatment you or a loved one have received any compensation for the estimated cost of medical care you'll require in the future due to the accident.
Pain and suffering
You may be entitled to receive compensation for pain and severe discomfort that you have suffered caused by the accident and its immediate aftermath and also for any ongoing pain that can be associated with the incident.
If any cars or other items were damaged because of the accident, you'd probably be entitled to compensation for repairs or reimbursement for the fair market value of the property that was lost.
Loss of consortium
In personal injury lawsuits, "loss of consortium" damages usually refer to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff's relationship with their spouse. For instance, the lack of companionship or the inability to keep a sexual relationship also some states consider the separate impact on the relationship between a parent and their children when a person is injured. In some instances, loss of consortium damages is given directly to the affected family member rather than the injured plaintiff.
Loss of enjoyment
When injuries produced by accident keep you or a loved one from enjoying day-to-day activities including exercise, hobbies and other recreational activities, you may be entitled to get "loss of enjoyment" damages.
Punitory Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
In cases where the defendant's behavior is considered particularly outrageous or extremely careless, a personal injury plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages along with any compensatory damages award.
Punitive damages are given to the injured plaintiff. The goal of these types of costs is to punish the defendant for their conduct.
In the handful of states that follow the concept of "contributory negligence" for personal injury cases, you may not be capable of recovering any compensation at all if you're considered partially to blame for the incident.
If you or a loved one is at fault (even partially) for the accident that caused your injuries, the odds are that any damage award will reflect that. This is because most states adhere to a "comparative negligence" standard that combines damages to a degree of fault in a personal injury lawsuit.
After the accident: failure to decrease damages.