What Are Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

personal injury claim form with pen, glasses and calculator
February 21, 2018
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

In personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff may be awarded compensatory damages, to be paid by the defendant, for the losses that were caused by the injury. These damages may be awarded for a variety of different losses. While different states may have guidelines and limits for how compensatory damages are calculated, judges and jury often have wide discretionary power when it comes to determining the amounts of the financial awards.

Which Types of Lawsuits Involve Compensatory Damages?

There are many types of civil lawsuits where compensatory damages are awarded, including:

Depending on the type of lawsuit, punitive damages may also be awarded to the plaintiff.

What Types of Losses Do Compensatory Damages Cover?

In a personal injury lawsuit, compensatory damages are awarded in two different types: general and special damages.

Special Compensatory Damages

Special damages can be recovered through a compensatory damages award and are designed to cover monetary expenses that the plaintiff incurred (or will incur) due to their injury. They include:

Medical Bills – This includes current medical bills and the cost expected of future medical bills that relate to the injury.

Lost Wages – This includes any past wages that were lost due to the accident, as well as future loss of earnings.

Repair or Replacement of Property – If the accident or injury involves damage to property (for example, the damages to a car from a car accident), then the plaintiff is entitled to ask for compensatory damages for the repair or replacement of the damaged property.

Cost of Living with a Disability – When the plaintiff’s injury leads to a permanent disability, he or she can ask for damages that are associated with that disability.

General Compensatory Damages

General damages are assigned to non-monetary losses suffered by the plaintiff and are often unique to each case. They include:

Pain and Suffering – Damages can be awarded for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering related to the accident and injury.

Loss of Consortium – In some cases, the spouse of the victim may be awarded damages for the loss or affection, comfort, and sexual relations that result from the injury sustained by the victim.

Mental Anguish or Emotional Distress – The mental anguish or emotional distress that the injury or accident caused may be assigned compensatory damages. However, these are typically only awarded when the defendant’s actions were intentional.

Disability or Disfigurement – If the injury includes permanent disability or disfigurement, plaintiffs may be awarded additional compensation.

Funeral Expenses – If the injury resulted in a death, funeral expenses may be covered with general damages.

In some states, there may be a limit, or cap, on the number of damages that a plaintiff can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, in any case, compensatory damages that are awarded must be reasonable and proportionate to the losses the plaintiff sustained.

Do I Need an Attorney to Get Compensatory Damages?

Filing a personal injury lawsuit of any kind can be a complicated process, not to mention that most personal injury cases – especially those that go to trial – require the use of expert witness testimony. Most people do not have immediate access to the kind of medical experts that are needed in personal injury cases.

The investigation into all aspects of your accident will also be needed for your claim. Experienced personal injury attorneys often have medical experts and investigators readily available to help with their cases.

It is always in a plaintiff’s best interest to hire legal representation for a personal injury claim. Attorneys know the law and they know how to work with insurance companies, which will ensure that those insurance companies are not able to take advantage of you. Additionally, when you are seeking compensatory damages, an experienced personal injury lawyer will know exactly what you can ask for, and what amounts are reasonable and proportional. It would be a disservice to yourself to not work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer for your case.

The Right Personal Injury Lawyer Makes All the Difference

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to someone’s negligence, Philadelphia personal injury attorney, Rand Spear, can help you with your case. Contact his office today to schedule your free consultation.