Types of Compensation Awarded in Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you've had a chance to check out the informational resources that the personal injury lawyers at The Sharma Law Firm present on this site, then you probably understand that substantial compensation can be awarded to victims if they chose to pursue an injury lawsuit.
But what exactly is the compensation in a personal injury lawsuit based on?
Compensation in Injury Lawsuits
The financial compensation that victims of injuries seek when they file an injury lawsuit will always be based on the damages that occurred. Indeed, without damages, there can be no compensation of any kind or even a potential case.
Once the damages suffered by the victim are delineated and it is established that they were directly caused by the defendant's negligence, only then can compensation be calculated.
Compensation in injury claims is divided into two general categories: punitive and compensatory. In the remainder of this blog post, we will break each of these down and provide some examples that paint a clear picture of what each term refers to. Let's begin with the latter.
The compensatory category covers a wide range of damages; given this, it should come as no surprise that compensatory damages are the type of compensation most often awarded in injury claims.
By definition, compensatory damages are awarded with the intention of "making the victim whole again." What this means is that compensatory damages seek to assign a dollar value to all the damages that resulted from the injury. This can include:
- Past medical expenses - surgical procedures, emergency room, etc...
- Current medical expenses - therapy, follow-up visits, & more
- Future medical expenses - ongoing or permanent healthcare required to ensure the health of the victim
- Intangible damages - pain & suffering; emotional distress
- Lost wages - victims of injuries are often unable to return to work for some time
- Loss of earning potential - if the injury prevents the victim from performing their previous job or any future job
- Household expenses - if structural or other kinds of changes must be made to a home to accommodate the injured victim (such as installing a chair lift,) these can be covered by compensatory damages
- Damage to property
- Wrongful death - funeral & burial costs; loss of household income; loss of companionship; emotional pain & anguish suffered by surviving family members & more
Any successful injury lawsuit will provide compensatory damages. If there are no compensatory damages to award, this means that no damages were suffered by the victim in the first place (that the court could find) and the claim is essentially baseless.
Punitive Damages and Injury Lawsuits
Whereas compensatory damages in an injury lawsuit are intended to serve as remuneration for damages suffered by the victim, punitive damages are quite different. Not only in their definition which we go into next, but because they are awarded with significantly less frequency.
As a whole, punitive damages are intended for injury lawsuits in which the negligent act committed, and which has been proven to have caused the damages, was particularly distasteful or vile. They're generally large amounts of money and are very much supposed to warn others against committing the same act.
One of the most commonly shared examples of punitive damages is those seen in cases dealing with defective products and medication. The largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the country, for instance, stand to make hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars from the lifetime of a single product.
This lucrative business can lead them to 'overlook' issues during testing phases, or perhaps even attempt to cover them up. When courts find these wrongdoings, they are likely to levy steep fines (in the form of compensation for the affected) on these same manufacturers so that they are inclined to change their process, while also warning any others on the sidelines against making the same mistake.
Which Types of Compensation Are Your Eligible For?
If you've suffered a personal injury, you are likely wondering which types of compensation you could receive for the damages you've suffered. Contact our experienced legal team today to learn more about all of your legal options in a no-obligation, no-cost case review. Let us help you fight for the compensation you deserve and need to get back on your feet.