Compensatory versus Punitive Damages in Your Accident Case

Tort law involves private party civil liabilities. The plaintiff that succeeds with a tort suit will recover the actual damages they have suffered, known as the compensatory damages. Depending on the circumstances of the case, these damages can be for direct harms, including physical injuries, medical expenses, and lost pay. Also, intangible harms can be awarded compensatory damages (such as emotional distress). In your personal injury claim, it is important that you understand the distinct differences between punitive and compensatory damages – especially since not all claims qualify for punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages include tangible and intangible losses. Just as the name implies, these damages are meant to compensate you for your losses. Tangible damages can include:

  • Property damage
  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Past, current, and future lost wages

Intangible damages are those that cannot be presented with a receipt or proven outright, but are still a damage that you have encountered because of the other party’s negligence. These intangible damages can include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium or damage to a relationship with spouse or children

Compensatory damages (both intangible and tangible) are the most commonly awarded type of damage. It is imperative these damages are calculated accurately so that no costs are overlooked. While past expenses are easy to calculate, the task of calculating future expenses requires experience handling civil liability claims and may even require testimony from medical and accounting experts.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not as common in tort claims. Instead, these damages are used to punish the negligent party for their behavior. The courts feel that if a person is required to pay a large sum of money for their behavior, not only will it deter them from doing the same acts in the future, but it will deter others.Punitive damages are typically awarded in car accident cases where the driver was drinking and driving. Because a DUI is illegal, the driver will pay punitive damages as their penalty as well as compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not based on your losses; instead, the court will determine an amount that they feel serves as an adequate punishment for the defendant’s actions. Most importantly, the defendant must demonstrate a willful disregard for the health and safety of others to be required to pay punitive damages.

Ask Us About Your Compensation

Compensation is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The circumstances and specific losses of your case will determine how much your claim is worth. Meet with the Daytona Beach Attorneys at Vasilaros Wagner to explore your compensation options. You can contact us online or call 386-777-7777 to schedule a consultation.

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