A personal injury case can be complex and require time and patience. As a plaintiff seeking personal injury compensation, you may seek what in legal terms is called “damages”. These can include compensation for injuries, property damage, or any loss resulting from an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or harmful intent.
There are several types of damages your personal injury attorney can help you receive. Damages fall under two general categories—compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate or reimburse the plaintiff for the harm sustained in an automobile accident, slip and fall case, medical malpractice, or wrongful death case.
Less common are punitive damages, which are not associated with the type of physical/mental harm or property damage associated with a claim. Punitive damages punish a defendant for their wrongdoing. If particularly heinous behavior is involved, an injured party or plaintiff may be directly awarded punitive on top of compensatory damages.
Here is a breakdown of common types of compensation:
- Special Compensatory Damages: Compensating a victim for monetary losses, special damages are unique to each case. They aim to make an individual whole from the expenses brought on by an accident or loss it caused. There are no limits regarding the types of damage claims or how much an injured party can be awarded for medical bills, cost of future medical care, loss of earnings/future earnings, or household expenses.
- General Compensatory Damages: Non-monetary damages associated with an injury claim, which can compensate an injured victim for pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of consortium or companionship. General damages are involved in all personal injury cases to some extent. They cover the harm “generally” sustained and that cannot be quantified in an exact dollar amount.
- Wrongful Death Damages: Wrongful death claims work differently than any other legal claim. Providing damages for surviving family members, spouses, and loved ones, wrongful death damages cover the cost of pre-death medical care, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of financial contribution from the decedent. Other damages include compensation for emotional distress, loss of services and support, and loss of companionship and consortium.
- Punitive Damages: An injured plaintiff can be awarded punitive damages only if the defendant is found guilty of a malicious act such as battery or sexual assault, or of fraud that has caused substantial financial harm. A defendant’s reprehensible behavior may be the subject of punishment. Punitive damages can apply to entities as well, especially manufacturers of defective products or prescription drugs.
How to Collect Damages
Receiving a damage award is separate from collecting the money. While you are entitled to damages upon settlement or a court judgement payment may be delayed. A defendant may be unwilling to pay or be unable to do so in full. The collection process can be difficult, but an attorney can help. Legal actions can include wage garnishments, property liens, or finding undisclosed assets. The defendant’s insurer may pay if they have liability insurance, while fees accrues on most damages awards until they’re paid in full, which can help encourage defendants to be compliant.
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