Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Broadly, there are three kinds of damages you can claim for in a personal injury case, viz., economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages are sometimes referred to as “special” damages, and non-economic damages are sometimes called “general” damages. Both economic and non-economic damages fall in the category of compensatory damages.
The word “compensatory” per se indicates that the damages are paid to recompense the victim for any injury, harm or loss sustained by them due to the breach of the at-fault party’s duty of care. Such kinds of damages may be awarded in a negligence claim filed in line with tort law and hence, these are usually described as tort damages.
Negligence-based personal injury cases may award economic and non-economic damages, but punitive damages are only awarded in extremely severe cases.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Damages
Before everything else, it is important to have a clear understanding of the concept of damages as well as the things that can be included as part of the compensation a claimant receives.
In a lawsuit, legal damages (also called monetary damages) are awarded to the harmed party and are paid by the party are fault. Simply put, damages are the amount of money that is legally required to be paid in cases, involving either violation of a person’s right or a breach of a specific duty by the at-fault party against the harmed party.
The amount awarded in damages depends on the specific situation of the case as well as on the degree of the negligence or deliberately irresponsible behavior of the liable party. It can be considered as a type of restitution, a penalty, or both.
For example, compensatory damages are considered as restitution to recompense the harmed party for any injury or loss that requires the party at fault to pay the victim for their physical or fiscal losses sustained.
Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages, on the other hand, are regarded as a penalty. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish or penalize the liable party for their wrongdoings and also to discourage the liable party and others from showing such behavior in the future.
In a nutshell, typical personal injury cases include two types of compensatory damages, namely economic and non-economic along with exemplary or punitive damages. However, there exist other types of damages like liquidated damages (i.e., contractually established damages) and nominal damages (i.e., where the court awards a nominal amount to the plaintiff, such as $1), they are almost never applicable or granted in personal injury cases.
You Can Pursue Three Types of Damages to Recover Losses in a Personal Injury Case
Explained below are the three types of damages that a sufferer can obtain through a personal injury claim or lawsuit:
Economic Damages (Special Damages)
Economic damages are awarded to the injured party to recompense them for their financial losses due to the injuries they sustained. The main objective of such damages is to recompense the victim for any monetary losses related to their injuries. These damages are intended to alleviate the plaintiff’s financial strain, partly or fully. These damages often include the following:
· Loss of wages (tougher to prove, particularly when the victim’s pay includes variable elements, otherwise called commission-based pay, as opposed to a fixed monthly salary)
· Medical bills and the cost of treatment
· Cost of living with a permanent or temporary disability due to physical harms suffered in the accident
· Property damage
· Cost of a funeral in case of death, and
· Personal care expenses.
Non-Economic Damages (General Damages)
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are not as simple when it is about designating a specific fiscal value for such damages. This is because, most non-economic damages entail emotional trauma, involving suffering and pain, that is usually intangible and not as easy to measure as economic damages. This type of damages also offers recompense for any future losses and damages due to loss of income as well as all the required future medical care. Non-economic damages may include the following:
· Mental trauma
· Pain and suffering
· Loss of companionship
· Loss of ability to enjoy life, and
· Any damage to the victim’s reputation
When computing non-economic damages, crucial facts are factored in, such as the health status and age of the victim before the accident, their income and profession, and the severity of their injuries as well as any possible present and future impact of the injuries or losses on the quality of life of the sufferer.
Punitive Damages (Exemplary Damages)
Courts award exemplary damages with the intent to punish the defending party for conduct in personal injury cases, where such behavior was found to be obviously negligent, outrageous, and/or deliberate. The purpose of the punishment is to discourage the at-fault party and to prevent other people from getting involved in similar acts in the future.
As a matter of fact, punitive damages are rarely awarded in the Sunshine State. To obtain punitive damages, the defending party’s conduct must have been careless or malevolent, showing plain disregard toward the well-being and rights of the injured party, to the point that a court wants to send out a clear message that such acts won’t be tolerated at any cost.
Although most personal injury cases hinge on the concept of negligence, in some cases, a defendant’s negligence could rise to the degree of “wanton and willful behavior”, categorically showing that the defending party deliberately inflicts an unreasonably high risk of injury upon other people, acting with willful ignorance of such risks with no regard for the well-being and safety of others.
Seeking an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Clermont, Florida
At MANGAL PLC, our skilled personal injury lawyers completely analyze every minute detail of your personal injury or car accident case to offer you with best possible legal consulting and unmatched representation.
We have experience handling many different personal injury claims, involving various types of damages, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. What sets us apart is our focus on the quality of representation, instead of the number of clients. While we take pride in the number of injured victims we have successfully represented so far, what brings true pleasure to us is our clients’ level of satisfaction.
Our experienced injury lawyers in Florida can help you maximize the special, general, and exemplary damages for your personal injury claim. Reach out to us today!