The number of accidental deaths in the United States in 2017 was 169,936. Countless cases are filed in State and Federal courts each year, including personal injury claims. Victims of personal injuries may receive compensation for many types of damages. They can seek compensatory and punitive damages when speaking of personal injuries.
But what are the differences between these types, and when to choose which option? Read on to learn everything there is to know about the two main types of personal injuries.
What are Compensatory Damages?
Compensatory damages reimburse victims for either an injury or a personal loss.
This personal injury compensation consists of measurable out-of-pocket costs. In other words, when you receive special compensatory damages, you are reimbursed for the expenses incurred and income lost due to your injury.
Types of Compensatory Damages
A court may award compensatory damages to a plaintiff to cover their losses. They help to restore the plaintiff’s pre-injury financial status. Unlike general damages, special damages are directly related to the injury suffered.
Also known as economic damages, special damages reimburse victims for financial losses caused by an injury. Special damages may include the following:
- Past and future monetary losses
- Past and future medical expenses
- Amounts required to fix broken objects or buy new ones
- Housekeeping assistance while the plaintiff is in the hospital.
In almost any state, special damages are not capped in any way in personal injury cases. Instead, damages must be proven by a preponderance of evidence standard.
Compared to special damages, general damages, also known as non-economic damages, are more difficult to quantify. Legal awards for pain and suffering should compensate plaintiffs for the intangible losses associated with an injury. Certain losses considered to be general damages include:
- A physical impairment or deformity
- Suffering and pain
- Lack of fulfillment in life
- Loss of reputation
What are Punitive Damages?
Instead of just compensating victims, courts award punitive damages to set an example and discourage future acts of negligence. Punitive damages are only awarded in about 5% of verdicts and never stand alone; they are always rewarded in addition to other damages.
Unlike personal injury cases, punitive damages are available in cases where the defendant has committed fraud and acted intentionally, willfully, or wantonly.
Types of Punitive Damages
Courts award punitive damages to deter the defendant from acting negligently again. It is typically a large corporation or organization, but sometimes individuals are liable for punitive damages as well. It’s not uncommon for courts to hand down this kind of compensation in the following scenarios:
- Substandard medical care
- Accidental driving while intoxicated
- Failure in manufacturing quality control
- An extreme lack of care
- Hazardous behavior
- Crime against anti-discrimination statutes
- Correlation between criminal behavior and negligence.
Don’t Suffer Alone: Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyers
An experienced personal injury attorney is the best bet for managing a personal injury case in your favor. Lawyers at Haffner Law will give you an honest assessment of your case and help you navigate it seamlessly in all aspects.
Trust experts at Haffner Law to construct a case demonstrating the defendant’s gross negligence and help you receive compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to get expert legal advice!