Incurring a personal injury can have a wide range of consequences. Whether a car accident or a workplace injury, it can result to huge losses on your part. Not only will you be able to work but also not support your family. For this reason, you may seek compensation for the losses you have incurred. In legal parlance, this is called “damages.”
Basically, there are two types of damages that you can claim in a personal injury case. The first type is compensatory damages. From the name itself, this is a monetary claim designed to pay for loss compensation as a result of accident or injury. It is designed to make the plaintiff “whole” again at least from a financial standpoint. Compensatory damages refer to expenses that are easily quantifiable such as property damage or medical expenses. They fall into two categories namely special damages, which pays for monetary losses, and general damages, which pays for non-monetary losses.
Monetarty losses in compensatory damages may include medical expenses, costs of living with disability, lost wages, repair or replacement, or funeral expenses. Non-monetary losses are difficult to quantify. You cannot put a monetary value on pain or suffering or loss of consortium.
The second type of damage that you can claim in a personal injury case is punitive. They are not designed to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendant for causing the injury and as a deterrent for others to get involved in a similar accident. They are usually not awarded in a personal injury case but can be considered when compensatory damage has been awarded.
Punitive damages are only awarded to the plaintiff as a result of the despicable or reprehensible behavior of the defendant. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages will not usually top the million dollar bracket so most states put a limit on how much punitive damage they will award the plaintiff. In most cases, this is limited to less than ten times the amount of the compensatory damage.
How damages will be awarded to the plaintiff can also be affected by their role in the accident. Most states are governed by “comparative negligence” when awarding damages. If you are partially at fault for the accident, it could greatly have an impact on the amount of damage you will get. In addition, in some states the concept of “contributory negligence” is adopted. This means that if you were deemed partially at fault for the accident, you might not be entitled to receive damages for it.
Finally, most state laws require the plaintiff to take reasonable steps in mitigating the monetary impact of their injury. Sitting back and resting on their laurels will not help the plaintiff get the damage that they desire.