Understanding the Types of Damages

Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are injured in an accident, the first thing you probably start to consider once you have taken care of recovery is compensation. The law guarantees everyone who is a victim of an accident caused by another’s carelessness compensation for the accident, but do you know what kind of compensation you can receive? A lawyer can help ensure they you receive everything you are due, but you should know what you are and are not owed.

What Can You Be Compensated for?

In a court case, compensation is called “damages.” The goal is for the victim to be made whole, or to put it another way, for the victim to be restored to the state they were in before the accident. This means you can receive damages for everything that cost you, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Damage to property
  • Lost wages due to injury
  • Loss of future earning power
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability

As you probably noticed, some of the above items have a monetary value and some do not. This is a distinction between different types of damages that you need to understand.

Types of Damages

There are three different types of damages: Special compensatory damages, general compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

  • Special compensatory damages is the type of compensation for things that have a specific and exact monetary value. For example, if your medical bill is $500, you will receive exactly $500 in special compensatory damages for that expense.                                                                                                                                                                
  • General compensatory damages relate to expenses that do not have a monetary value. The judge will assign a value to these damages to represent emotional loss, physical pain, loss of ability, or other non-monetary losses. For example, if you lose the ability to walk in an accident, a judge may rule that this loss’ equivalent monetary value is $500,000. “Pain and suffering” is the most common type of general compensatory damage.                                                         
  • Punitive damages are assigned strictly to punish the liable party. These damages do not correspond to any losses the victim suffered. For example, if someone got drunk and caused an accident you were involved in, on top of paying for the damage to your vehicle and medical bill, the judge may decide this is not enough and may assign the defendant $1,500 in punitive damages as a fine. Punitive damages are relatively rare, and usually only happen when the defendant was acting maliciously or especially irresponsible.                                                                       

A lawyer can tell you which types of damages you qualify for and are likely to receive.

Source: Personal Injury Lawyer Miami, FL, Needle & Ellenberg, P.A.

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