Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In any successful personal injury claim, the plaintiff (the person injured because of the fault of another) receives a certain amount of compensation to cover costs associated with their injury. This could be to cover medical bills, therapy, medication, lost wages, damages and any other expenses the victim suffers because of the injury. To get compensated for a personal injury, you must prove that the defendant acted negligently and their carelessness caused the accident, therefore causing your injuries. You’ll then be awarded either compensatory or punitive damages.

How Compensation Works in Personal Injury Cases

There are several key factors that a plaintiff must produce to get compensation. If you believe someone else was responsible for the accident, you’ll file a personal injury claim with that person’s insurance, not your own. You must be able to prove that the other person caused the accident due to negligence and that your injuries were a direct result of it. Failing to prove any of these things can lead to your claim being denied by the court.

Compensatory Damages

If your claim is successful, you may be awarded compensatory damages. This form of compensation comes straight from the other person’s insurance company. It should supply you for all damages that you have requested in your claim, from medical costs to damaged property that needs to be fixed. Sometimes injuries arise at a later time following the accident, so it is important to wait a little while before filing your claim to ensure everything is included in the claim. If it is not, you cannot make additions to your claim after it has been settled.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages by the source of the compensation that the plaintiff receives. While compensatory comes from the insurance company, punitive comes from the defendant. They must pay the same amount that is agreed upon in the claim. Punitive damages are usually awarded if the court feels an example must be made of the defendant, usually to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future by the guilty party or another party. Medical malpractice, driving under the influence, product malfunctions and nursing home abuse have all been used for punitive damages.

If you aren’t sure what your case falls under, contact a personal injury lawyer, to discuss it with them. They can help you understand complex aspects of your situation and get you started on the right path to compensation.