When you’ve been injured as a result of another person or entity’s negligence, the only way to exact justice is to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the harm that you’ve suffered. Though no amount of money can turn back the clock and make your injury or loss disappear, the legal system has created a fairly predictable method of determining what losses deserve compensation. When the court is asked to decide damages, they look at a variety of types of damages and then allocate different amounts where applicable.
The two main categories of damages in a personal injury lawsuit are compensatory and punitive. Punitive damages are awarded when the jury decides that the defendant’s actions that caused the harm deserve punishment, while compensatory damages specifically offset the losses that the victim has suffered. Examples of compensatory damages include:
- Medical expenses – This category of expense is fairly straightforward, as expenses that have been incurred are documented and easy to prove. If you have been injured and have been forced to spend money on medical care, diagnostic tests, rehabilitation, medication or similar costs (or are expected to continue to have expenses in the future), those past and anticipated expenses will be included in compensation.
- Lost wages – If the personal injury that you’ve suffered has resulted in you losing income or being unable to return to work, those losses will be calculated and included in the damages you receive.
- General compensatory damages – These damages are more difficult to anticipate because they are based upon less concrete elements of how the personal injury you’ve suffered has affected your life. Unlike calculating or projecting salary or providing receipts for medical expenses, general damages for things like pain and suffering are more subjective and will depend upon factors such as what type of injury you’ve suffered, how long it took for you to recover or whether you ever will fully recover, and the emotional distress that the injury has caused to you and your loved ones.
The bottom line in determining damages – and especially general compensatory damages – often comes down to how effectively your attorney tells your story. If you’d like to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to learn how we can help you, contact us today to set up a time for us to discuss your situation.