What Are Damages?


In a personal injury case, the term “damages” refers to the amount of money that the court orders paid to the injured party to make up for harm and losses. Damages can include quantifiable amounts, such as compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. However, damages may also include punitive damages if the responsible party behaved in an especially grievous way. Here is more information about damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Actual Damages

Actual damages are those that are quantifiable. They can be calculated based on real data. Here are some examples of actual damages.

  • Medical bills: Actual damages can include reimbursement for any medical expenses you have to pay out of your pocket related to the injury. 
  • Lost wages: If you are unable to work due to injuries, you may receive compensation for the income you lose while you are off. If your injuries keep you from working in the future, you may recover for that too, in a concept known as lost earning capacity.

Other Kinds of Damages

A court may award different kinds of damages besides actual.

  • Punitive damages are those awarded by the court as a punishment against a negligent party who acted egregiously. Some states have a formula for calculating punitive damages, while others leave it open to the discretion of the jury.
  • Compensatory damages are amounts meant to make up for the pain and suffering of the injured party.
  • In the event of wrongful death, a court may award funeral costs and an amount for the family’s emotional distress. 

Mitigated Damages

Even if someone else’s negligence injures a party, the injured person still has a responsibility to do what he or she can to reduce the losses. This concept is known as mitigating damages. It sets forth the expectation that the injured party would behave in the way that a reasonable person would act in that situation. For example, the injured party might be expected to seek appropriate medical treatment or look for another job if doing the old work is no longer possible. If the plaintiff doesn’t do these things, the court may consider that a reason to reduce the damage award.

Finding Help With Damages

To get help with a personal injury lawsuit, you want to reach out to a knowledgeable and experienced attorney in your area. Laws around damages are governed by state law, so it is necessary to seek out someone who understands local procedures. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis, IN, like the Ward & Ward Law Firm. Their expertise and knowledge will only give you an advantage when arguing your claim.