When you’re hurt or sick, you need medical care, and that care comes at a cost. Add to that the losses you may suffer as a result of having to miss work, or losing your ability to earn a living, or care for yourself. If your injury or illness is the result of somebody else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue them for the value of those expenses and losses, as well as for other, less tangible costs you may have suffered. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, you pursue compensation for these monies, which are known as recoverable damages.
When you suffer a personal injury and pursue legal action against those who are responsible, your immediate goal is to convince a judge or jury that they are at fault. This is known as establishing negligence. You also need to tie the defendant’s negligence to the injury you’ve suffered. This is called causation. Once a jury has been convinced of both negligence and causation, they are asked to provide the injured party with recoverable damages. Recoverable damages can be broken down into two different categories — compensatory and punitive. Not every personal injury lawsuit results in the plaintiff being awarded both types of damages, but it is helpful to understand what each one is.
- Compensatory damages repay the plaintiff for the actual costs (or anticipated costs) of the losses that they have suffered. This may include the cost of medical expenses that they have already paid or are anticipated to pay in the future; the loss of wages that they have already suffered and/or may suffer in the future; the estimated cost of a disability or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life; the evaluated cost of suffering, pain or grief; loss of domestic or household services and more. If the personal injury involved damage to property, reimbursement to cover those costs and replacement will also be considered compensatory recoverable damages.
- Punitive damages are assessed as a punishment. Not every case will result in the defendant being punished for their negligence. They are most frequently assessed when the defendant in the case is judged to have acted so recklessly or maliciously that the jury decides that a message needs to be sent to them as well as to others who might behave with a similar disregard to the safety and health of others.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury as a result of somebody else’s negligence, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about what recoverable damages you may be entitled to.