Have you heard of compensatory damages? If you or a loved one has ever been injured in something like a car accident or filed some other type of personal injury claim, you may have. Compensatory damages are a central part of a personal injury claim and one of the main, if not the sole, purpose of filing a claim, to begin with. You see, the aptly named “compensatory damages” are intended to compensate a plaintiff in a personal injury action for harm suffered, whether it be for an injury or other loss incurred as a result of the accident.
While we are focusing here on compensatory damages in personal injury actions, compensatory damages are actually available in most, if not all, civil actions where someone has suffered a loss due to the negligence or unlawful conduct of someone else. As in a personal injury action, compensatory damages should be available when a plaintiff is able to prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that duty was breached, and that breach of said duty caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.
Compensatory damages must be quantified, although some are easier to do so than others. Compensatory damages do, after all, include both economic and non-economic damages suffered by the plaintiff. Economic damages are those which are easier to quantify and are grounded in concrete numbers. Some examples of economic compensatory damages include:
- Cost of medical care
- Cost of future medical treatment
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Ambulance costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Increase in cost of living
- Domestic services and nursing home care
To quantify these losses, you can look to bills, paychecks, and other supporting evidence. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, represent real harm suffered by a plaintiff but are more difficult to assign a price tag. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
It is critical to take care in accounting for all of your losses which may be included in your compensatory damage award. Once you are paid out on your claim, you will likely have to sign a release of future claims and will be unable to recover further on this specific claim. That means it is especially important to make sure you get full and fair compensation before you settle your claim. It is likely to be your only shot at recovery.
Compensatory damages will likely make up the bulk, if not all, of your damage award. In some rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages, however, are only awarded in exceptional cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious. When this is the case, the court may award punitive damages in order to punish the defendant and to deter future conduct such as one that led to the current plaintiff’s injuries.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
Have you been injured in an accident? Talk to the knowledgeable team at Cooper, Schall & Levy about what damages may be available to you. Contact us today.