If you bring a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent party, you may win a settlement, and all or a portion of that settlement may be considered compensatory damages. Compensatory damages refer to compensation a plaintiff has recovered for losses incurred as a result of an injury, damage, or other loss. This part of the settlement is to compensate you for costs or losses incurred as a result of an accident.
All You Need To Know About Compensatory Damages
In This Article:
- Actual Compensatory Damages
- Compensatory Damages for Future Costs
- General Compensatory Damages
- Non-Monetary Damages | Non-Economic Damages
- Damages for Pain and Suffering
- Compensatory vs Punitive Damages
Actual Compensatory Damages
Sometimes called specific or special damages, actual compensatory damages directly relate to expenses incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. They can include the following:
- Medical bills
- Costs for medical treatments
- Ambulance bills
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Chiropractic bills
- Medication and prescription drugs
- Nursing home care
- Expenses for home care
- Money paid to people who helped around the home while you were injured
- Medical equipment or devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, hospital beds, etc.
- Lost wages
- Mileage to medical appointments
- Property damages
If you had to cancel a trip or change plans due to your injury, you may also be able to claim compensatory damages for those amounts. To ensure your personal injury attorney assesses all of these amounts correctly, you should save all your receipts and records of missed work. Of course, you should also track your mileage when you go to medical appointments. Even more importantly, make sure you hire a lawyer who understands how to calculate compensatory damages correctly and fairly.
I have authored multiple books on the details of automobile accident cases. Such books include ‘The Ultimate California Auto Accident Handbook’ and ‘The California Motorcycle Accident Handbook’. I’ve also been invited to speak on this topic on both radio and TV. When you work with the Edward A. Smith Law Offices, you can rest assured the team possesses the knowledge your case needs. Beyond that, the team of Edward A. Smith Law Offices has the experience you need, recovering millions of dollars in damages for clients.
Compensatory Damages for Future Costs
You may also receive compensatory damages related to projected future medical costs and lost future income. To estimate these amounts correctly, your attorney may suggest waiting until you reach maximum medical improvement. That is the point where you have recovered from your injuries to the full extent that you are likely to recover.
At this point, your lawyer can estimate how your injuries are likely to affect your future earning potential. They can also work with medical experts to determine what your future medical costs are likely to be.
General Compensatory Damages
These damages aren’t tied to a specific cost. However, they still affect your life in significant ways. As a result, you may also receive some compensation. Damages in this category include the following:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of opportunity
Non-Monetary Damages |Non-Economic Damages
If the accident caused psychological effects such as mental anguish and emotional distress, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for those damages. For instance, if you have developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety, or stress as a result of your injuries, your lawyer will try to secure damages in these categories. Because there are no receipts related to this type of claim, you need to keep records about your symptoms and how they affect your life. Talk with a psychologist to get a professional opinion about your issues and to establish that these damages were related to the injury. The defendant’s lawyer will often try to argue that these issues were present before the negligence occurred. That’s why it’s critical to have a qualified Sacramento personal injury attorney.
If you are scarred or disfigured as a result of the accident, you may be treated differently by other people. These injuries can get in the way of securing employment, starting new relationships or feeling confident. To make up for that drastic change in your life, your lawyer will also try to assign a numerical amount to your disfigurement.
You may also be able to receive damages for loss of consortium, the inability to have intimate relationships with your spouse or partner. In some cases, lawyers may argue that you deserve damages for loss of companionship because of the way the injuries alter your relationship with your family. These damages are often awarded to individual family members, rather than to the victim of the injury.
Compensatory vs Punitive Damages
In some cases, you may receive both compensatory and punitive damages. Punitive damages are non-compensatory damages. They are designed to punish the defendant, and they can be significantly different than the compensatory damages associated with the case.
For instance, in 2002, a jury in Los Angeles assessed $28 billion in punitive damages in a case against the cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris. The plaintiff, Betty Bullock, won $850,000 in compensatory damages. This is the largest amount of punitive damages ever awarded in a case involving an individual plaintiff, and the punitive damages were 33,000 times the amount of the compensatory damages. Note that the reviewing court reduced the punitive damages to $28 million, but the plaintiff died of lung cancer before the damages were paid to her.
Find out what factors can affect a personal injury claim in the video below:
If you are injured due to the negligence of another party, it’s likely you have to deal with a lot of medical bills. Beyond that, your life may be substantially changed forever. You have a right to compensation for the direct costs you have incurred, but you also deserve compensation for your general damages. To ensure you get justice in your case, you need a strong personal injury lawyer.
Do you need help with your personal injury complaint? Let me know in the comments section below. Or secure a free case evaluation with Edward A. Smith. At the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, we are eager to help you.
If you have been injured in at work, please call me for free and friendly advice at 916-921-6400 or 800-404-5400.