What are compensatory damages?

When you file a successful personal injury lawsuit, you will likely be awarded compensatory damages. These are damages designed to compensate you for your losses. In other words, compensatory damages are the damages meant to restore you to the position you were before the accident (or closest to that position).

That said, compensatory damages fall into two subcategories: economic and non-economic damages.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are the kind of damages that seek to compensate you for the financial losses you suffered because of the injuries you sustained. Common examples of economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning potential, cost of medical equipment, transportation costs to and from your medical appointments, caregiving costs, and so much more.

Under economic damages, you may also recover future medical expenses. This is quite common in injuries that require long-term treatment. For example, if you were amputated after a car accident, you may need physical therapy several times a week to learn how to walk with special ambulatory equipment. Therefore, when calculating your damages, your attorney will consider this factor to ensure you do not pay these expenses out of pocket.

What Are Non-economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are the kind of damages that do not involve loss of money. On the contrary, they compensate you for nonmonetary losses such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Humiliation
  • Mental anguish
  • Reputational damage

Because there are no receipts to prove non-economic damages, most courts will multiply your economic damages by a particular number, usually between 1.5 and 5, to estimate your non-economic damages. However, it is important to note that the exact number will depend on the circumstances of your case.

For instance, if you got injured in a car accident and were paralyzed waist down, chances are you will not be able to participate in many activities, including sex with your romantic partner, going out for a jog, etc. As a result, the judge or jury will evaluate the injury's impact on your life to determine the most reasonable settlement amount.

What Are Some Other Types of Damages?

Compensatory damages aside, other types of damages include nominal damages and punitive damages. As mentioned earlier, the exact kind of damages you may be able to recover will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

What Are Nominal Damages?

The court might award nominal damages if they establish that the defendant's actions were wrong, but the plaintiff failed to prove that they got injured due to the defendant's actions. The same applies if the plaintiff proves that they got injured due to the defendant's actions, but the court determines that the harm was minimal or insignificant. For this reason, nominal damages are usually just a few dollars and nothing significant to settle major bills after the injury.

What Are Punitive Damages?

As the name suggests, punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for their negligence. In most cases, punitive damages are higher than compensatory damages. However, the court will only award punitive damages if they determine that the defendant was grossly negligent in their conduct, leading to the plaintiff's injury.

It is also important to note that punitive damages are not guaranteed. The court has the right to or not to award these damages. Additionally, some states limit the punitive damages the court might award to a plaintiff in a personal injury case.

What Kind of Damages Should I Expect to Recover in My Personal Injury Case?

There is no guarantee that you may be able to recover specific damages in your case. It all depends on the circumstances of your case. To determine the kind of damages you may be able to recover, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Determine the Damages I May Be Able to Recover?

A personal injury attorney will take a deeper look at your case to determine its impact on your life, both mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. These four elements can help create a rough idea of the kind of damages you may be able to recover. For instance, if you suffered severe burns from a defective product, chances are you will have to live with the realities of permanent disfigurement. This could lower your self-esteem, affect your mental health, confidence, and relationships, and also lead to suicidal thoughts.

It is only after reviewing the impact of the injuries you sustained that an attorney can be able to tell you the damages you may be able to recover.

I Need Help Understanding the Value of My Case—Where Do I Start?

If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence, Morgan and Morgan personal injury attorneys might be able to help. One thing that makes us stand out in the personal injury field is that we do not leave any stone unturned. In other words, you can help maximize your claim if you have a valid case.

To understand the kind of damages you may be able to recover, fill out our free case evaluation form. One of our legal representatives will review your case and get in touch to discuss the next steps.

If you have a valid claim, we might be able to fight for you, ensuring you receive the compensation you need and deserve. This could include compensatory damages and also punitive damages if the court deems it fit.