General & Punitive Damages
Did you suffer an injury through no fault of your own? You may be entitled to compensation, called “damages,” for your losses that resulted from the responsible party’s negligence, carelessness, and wrongdoings. But what are damages, exactly?
In personal injury cases, damages are a remedy awarded in the form of monetary compensation to the harmed party (you). If awarded, you can pay off your medical bills and other injury-related expenses and get back on your feet, which is why a good attorney will fight tirelessly for the highest and fairest settlement possible in a personal injury case.
Special & General Compensatory Damages vs. Punitive Damages
Damages are broken down into compensatory and punitive, each of which has different impacts.
Compensatory damages, also known as actual damages, compensate victims for their injuries and losses caused by their accident. Compensatory damages are further categorized as general and special damages, which account for different losses, as you can see below:
Special compensatory damages (also known as economic damages):
- Medical expenses
- Transportation costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Legal fees
General compensatory damages (also known as non-economic damages)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Identifying special compensatory damages is generally straightforward because you can place a “dollar value” on these losses. For instance, if you got a broken leg in a car accident, you can prove your losses in court by presenting tangible evidence in the form of medical bills, ambulance expenses, therapy bills, and more. General damages are intangible losses, as you can see above, which is why they are typically more challenging to determine. A good lawyer will be able to negotiate for the highest possible settlement to cover your general damages.
Rarely awarded, punitive damages are a sort of punishment that intends to deter the responsible party from committing the act that caused the plaintiff’s injury. The court may only award punitive damages to a plaintiff if the defendant’s actions are considered particularly harmful, such as grossly negligent or intentional. As such, these types of damages set an example of the consequences others could face if they act out-of-line.
That’s why defendants who deliberately and willfully act negligently and/or recklessly are more likely to be subject to punitive damages than if they had injured someone unintentionally.
Working to Maximize Your Compensation
Our Louisville personal injury lawyers strive to help clients move forward by diligently negotiating for maximum compensation. We can help you identify losses, handle communications with your insurance company and the at-fault party, and fight for the settlement you need and deserve.
Contact us at (502) 947-3931 today!