Compensatory damages, like punitive and nominal damages, are awarded to a plaintiff against a defendant in a civil suit. They are monetary compensation for injuries and losses that the defendant caused the plaintiff due to some wrongdoings. Punitive damages aim at punishing the defendant, and nominal damages show that the plaintiff is legally in the right even if he suffered no loss or injury.
However, compensatory damages help compensate the plaintiff for losses, injuries, and inconveniences cursed by the wrongful act. It is not to punish the wrongdoer. Instead, it is to, as much as is feasible, take the claimant back to the position he was in before the commission of the wrongful act. Skilled injury lawyers need to know the difference between these terms.
There are two types of compensatory damages — actual and general, and they must be proven explicitly before the court awards them to the claimant. We’ll discuss all these in detail in the course of this article.
Types of Compensatory Damages
There are two types of compensatory damages — actual and general compensatory damages. Actual damages are primarily for reimbursing the plaintiff for financial and material losses like medical bills, property repairs, loss of future capacity occasioned by a deformity from an accident, etc.
For example, a victim in a car accident may have had some components of their car damaged. The person may have also sustained bodily injuries that made them spend some money on medical treatment.
Since compensatory damages aim to put the victim back in the position they were before the accident, they will get some money to cover the cost of car repairs and hospital bills. Actual damages are also known as special damages. They provide the financial means for replacing what was lost, and nothing more.
Sometimes, what the victim loses may transcend physical or material injury. They may have also suffered some psychological or emotional trauma, loss of consortium, pain, suffering, etc. For these losses that don’t have specific financial value, the victim will receive general compensatory damages to cover them.
General compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff to compensate them for losses and inconveniences that don’t have a monetary value. For example, a car accident victim is entitled to general damages to compensate for the emotional distress they had to go through at the time. Although it’s impossible to undo the emotional pain, some monetary compensation would serve as some relief to the claimant.
Proving Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are not awarded to plaintiffs automatically. The plaintiff must prove the losses, injuries, and inconveniences that they need compensation for. To prove actual damages, they must tender evidence of the monetary amount required to restore what was lost, spent, or damaged. For a lost or damaged car, they have to show proof of the market value of the vehicle as at the point the accident occurred. For medical treatment, it’s medical bills.
Proving actual damages isn’t much of a big deal because items lost have a fixed monetary value. But the case is different for general compensatory damages as it is challenging to determine how much non-material settlement costs. For example, how do you decide the cost of pain and suffering?
In practice, the judge and jury would consider many determining factors. These factors include the severity of the pain suffered, the duration of the pain, the degree of recklessness that caused the accident, and other facts unique to the case. The award of general damages is always subject to the court’s discretion.
You Need a Lawyer for Your Injury Claims
If you’ve suffered some injury as a result of someone else’s recklessness, you don’t have to bear the brunt of the financial losses that ensue. And even if there weren’t any financial losses, you should get some relief from the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you had to bear. You deserve all the compensation you can get, but without a personal injury lawyer, this might not be easy.
Whether you wish to approach the defaulter’s insurance company for compensation or you want to file a lawsuit, a good lawyer has your best interests at heart. The attorney will help you with all the paperwork and filings and negotiations.
They would also advocate on your behalf in the courtroom. Although the judge and jury determine compensatory damages, a terrific lawyer knows how to sway their minds and would convince them to award you the highest sum possible.
Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers Will Help You Get the Compensation That You Deserve
It’s not enough to have just any attorney to handle your injury claims. You want the best results, so you should get the best lawyers available. Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers are just the right legal assistance for you. Call us to schedule a free consultation.