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What are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are damages paid in personal injury and wrongful death claims to help make victims and their families “whole,” after someone causes them harm. In North Carolina, compensatory damages are limited for certain types of injury claims.

Compensatory damages are distinct from economic damages and may be paid to accident victims in addition to economic damages.

In injury and wrongful death claims, victims and their families are entitled to recover compensation for actual financial losses they experience due to injuries caused by negligence. For example, if an auto accident caused a broken leg which necessitated surgery and a month off from work, economic damages would include costs of surgery and follow-up care and a month’s lost wages.

Compensatory damages, on the other hand, would include compensation for losses not measured in money, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of companionship of a deceased family member.

In 2011, Senate Bill 33 imposed limits on compensatory damages for North Carolina medical malpractice cases. Under the changes that went into effect on October 1, 2011, compensatory damages are capped at $500,000. This means even if a victim’s intangible non-economic losses were greater, and/or his family’s losses were greater, the maximum award for non-economic compensatory damages would be $500,000. Damage caps like this one have an adverse impact on the rights of negligence victims to be fully compensated for all losses.

Proving the extent of intangible losses to secure appropriate compensatory damages can be a challenge. Contact a Charlotte, NC accident lawyer for help pursuing a case for compensation and fighting for full and fair compensatory damages.

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