The Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damage
Author: Auger Law | January 18th, 2017
When you hire an attorney and file a personal injury lawsuit, your ultimate goal is to prove that someone has been negligent. Once this has been proven, your attorney will work to prove that the negligent party’s actions caused your injuries. When both of these elements are proven, a judge will award damages in the case.
Damages are a monetary award that compensate a victim for any injury or property damage that has occurred due to another person’s negligent actions. There are two main categories of damages that a defendant may be ordered to pay: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are the standard that is sought in court. They are meant to pay back the victim. Punitive damages are sought in extreme cases as a way to punish the person who is found to be at-fault or negligent.
These damages are awarded for actual loss. Compensatory damages are normally sought when a victim has been injured. The purpose of compensatory damages is to restore the victim’s financial status to the state it was in before the injury. Under the umbrella of compensatory damages are those for tangible losses and intangible losses.
1. Tangible losses include medical treatments, loss of income, loss of property and legal fees. These damages are easily calculated using receipts, bills and estimates. Damages awarded for medical costs may include those that have already been paid and those that a doctor deems will be necessary in the future.
2. Intangible losses include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium. Intangible losses are not as easily calculated. These types of losses may be calculated based upon testimony from the victim, friends and family and even experts.
Punitive damages are exactly what they sound like: Punishment. These damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages and are meant to serve as a warning or motivator to the at-fault party to not behave in a specific way again. Punitive damages are not awarded in every case. A judge typically only considers punitive damages when the plaintiff is determined to have acted in a way that disregarded the safety of others.
To be awarded any type of damages, a victim must prove fault. This is done by entering evidence against the plaintiff. When a personal injury attorney is able to prove that the plaintiff’s actions caused injury or property damage, they will be made to compensate the victim of their actions. In some cases, depending on the types of damages awarded, there may be a cap, or maximum amount, set.
If you have been involved in an accident in Charlotte and believe that your injuries are due to someone’s negligence, you may have the elements necessary for compensation. Reach out to Auger & Auger Law today for a free case evaluation. We will sit with you to discuss the details of your accident and advise you of the options available to you under current state law. Call us today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.