The main goal of a personal injury case is to hold the responsible party accountable and to get compensation to cover a number of different “damages” that may have resulted from the accident. But these damages can actually include many different things, some of which are harder or more complicated to understand.
Whether you’re entering into a personal injury case as a plaintiff or defendant, you will want to know what each of these damages mean, how much money they may include, and what is included in that amount.
Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages
The damages in a personal injury attorney are broken down into either compensatory or punitive damages. As the names suggests, compensatory damages are meant to compensate an injured individual for their expenses, costs, or losses after an accident or injury while punitive damages are viewed as a punishment for the liable individual.
Punitive damages are not always rewarded in a personal injury case. This is because punitive damages are only given when the behavior of the responsible individual is viewed as malicious or appalling. Because many personal injury cases are the mistake or innocent carelessness of the responsible party, punitive damages would not qualify.
The damages received in a personal injury case will usually fall under compensatory, meaning they are designed to compensate the injured individual for money lost or extreme expenses, such as medical bills.
Kinds of Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are further broken down into what can be classified as “special compensatory damages” and “general compensatory damages.” In most personal injury cases, a combination of the two will be awarded.
General Compensatory Damages
When we talk about general compensatory damages, we are looking at harm that is caused by the accident or injury that does not necessarily have a monetary value attached to it. While these kinds of damages are typically mental or abstract, making them harder to understand for some individuals, they are commonly rewarded in personal injury cases.
One of the most common kinds of general compensatory damages includes pain and suffering, which refers to the physical discomfort you sustain after an accident or injury. While this does not have a monetary value directly attached, such as a medical bill or missed paycheck, it can still drastically decrease your quality of life and limit your ability to live comfortably.
Other kinds of general compensatory damages include mental anguish and loss of companionship. To understand what kind of general compensatory damages may be present in your case, it is best to talk with your personal injury attorney.
Special Compensatory Damages
The special compensatory damages involved with each personal injury case will vary from situation to situation and will be determined based on monetary values, including medical bills, repair bills, cancelled trips, or other expenses that have resulted from the accident or injury. When we think about compensatory damages, we almost always think of these times of expenses first.
One of the biggest special compensatory damages in each personal injury case includes the cost of medical bills, including bills for care that has already occurred and a projection of additional care in the future. For serious injuries, this can include the initial cost of treatment after the accident, but also include any surgeries or rehabs that may be necessary to restore quality of life.
Another popular special compensatory damage includes loss of earnings and loss of future earnings. For less serious injuries, loss of earnings can refer to the amount of income missed while recovering from the injury. If the injury is severe and makes it difficult or impossible for the injured individual to return to their job, future earnings can be another damage.
Other special compensatory damages may include the cost of modifying a house to make it livable after an injury, such as if the individual is left wheelchair bound.
About Wrongful Death Damages
In the event that the injured individual passed away as a result of their injuries, wrongful death damages may be awarded. These damages are designed to cover funeral and burial expenses, the expense of medical care before the individual passed away, and financial contribution if the deceased individual was a major financial supporter of the family left behind.
The Lamber Goodnow personal injury attorneys, and those at our partner firms, are experienced in all matters related to personal injury cases. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers never charge a fee, unless we win your case. Get a risk free consultation today.