It Was An Accident, But You Need An Attorney

Compensatory, Economic, Punitive – What Do All These Damage Categories Mean?

If you get in an accident caused by negligence or carelessness, you may be owed some money. The money you may be paid is known in legal terms as compensation and is based on what is called damages. Damages comprise all the ways you have been hurt by the accident. That hurt might be physical, mental, or financial. You might hear certain terms thrown around when it comes to seeking civil damages. If you are thinking about taking legal action against someone who has harmed you, the following categories of damages determine how much money you will be paid. Read on and find out which ones apply to your case.

Compensatory Damages

This category of damages is a general term that differentiates between non-economic damages which are explained below. Compensatory damages can be directly equated to dollars and cents and are always based on an actual, verifiable loss. For example, if you missed time from work, your lost wages make up the exact amount of money you lost while dealing with the accident and injuries. You would need to submit a pay statement or other form of proof to show how much income you lost so that you can be compensated (reimbursed) for it. Other common accident damages that fall into the compensatory bucket are medical expenses and lost or damaged personal property.

Punitive Damages

You cannot sue for punitive damages – you have to leave that up to the jury. Only certain levels of harm are appropriate for punitive damages. That could include punishing a driver for driving while intoxicated by imposing a judgment of several thousands of dollars on top of compensatory damages. Often, punitive damages are aimed at corporations rather than individuals, however.

Economic vs. Non-economic Damages

This category is similar to compensatory damages but is used to differentiate between economic and non-economic damages. When it comes to compensatory damages, you might have economic damages that equate to an exact amount of money and non-economic damages. There are only a few forms of damage that can be described as non-economic but they can make up the largest part of a personal injury case. In most cases, non-economic damages are:

The way non-economic damages are computed may be based on multiplying a victim's medical expenses by a factor that depends on the seriousness of the injuries.

To help you clear up any confusion about damages and what they mean to your case, speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Click this link for additional reading.