Understanding the Types of Damages You Could Sue For
Personal injuries can be expensive. In many cases, a serious enough injury requires costly medical treatment or time off of work, resulting in lost wages. As seasoned personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg can attest to, when someone accidentally or intentionally causes you personal injury, you are entitled to compensation and can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator. The amount of compensation awarded at the end of a lawsuit is dependent on the agreed-upon damages. Understanding what damages are will help you figure out what level of compensation you can receive.
What Are Damages?
In short, damages are the total amount of money a plaintiff will be ordered to pay you based on the type of case, the type of injury, and the severity of your injury. The type of compensation can generally be one of two categories: compensatory and punitive.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
The defendant pays for the plaintiff’s losses with compensatory damages. You will be reimbursed by the defendant for expenses you incurred as a result of your injuries, such as medical bills and lost wages. These damages are known as “economic damages” because they are easy to track through financial records and have a definitive value.
You may also be awarded non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. These damages, including mental anguish or loss of quality of life, cannot be measured definitively, so the value of your non-economic damages is usually determined via testimony, such as that of a doctor who has assessed your trauma or a loved one who has witnessed how this injury has negatively affected you.
What Are Punitive Damages?
The other type of damages is punitive damages, which serve to punish the defendant rather than have them reimburse you. Here is where the defendant’s actions are analyzed. If their behavior is deemed to be extremely negligent or reckless, you could be awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. However, note that punitive damages are rarely awarded because the qualifications for negligent behavior are strict and it’s more difficult to prove that someone had bad intentions.
Who Can Help You?
Before filing a lawsuit, you should seek legal counsel. An expert attorney will help you determine the type of personal injury case you should file and the damages you could seek. Not all cases are treated the same. For example, a medical malpractice lawsuit is handled much differently than a slip and fall case would be. Depending on your situation, your lawyer may be able to add punitive damages and non-economic compensatory damages to your case, increasing your total compensation. Contact a local personal injury lawyer and request an initial consultation to learn more about what they can do to help with your case.