Posted on: 18 March 2015
If you find yourself on the plaintiff end of a car accident case, you might be awarded damages. Damages are awarded to plaintiffs if a judge rules in favor of them. If you have hired a car accident lawyer after your accident, you might be wondering just exactly what he is talking about when he speaks about seeking damages for your injury. Throughout the course of this article, you will learn about the purpose of damages and about the different types such as general compensatory damages, specific compensatory damages and punitive damages.
The Purpose of Damages
The most important question that should be asked when seeking damages is: what exactly is the purpose of damages? Damages are essentially what are owed to you by the person, or the insurance of the person, who caused the crash that caused your injuries. You might be wondering how exactly these damages are calculated, as it has an impact on the amount of money you will receive if your lawyer wins your case. There are a variety of ways to calculate damages: physical injuries, damage or injury occurred to your property, emotional duress or injury, and even loss of enjoyment of activities associated with the injury can all be used to calculate the aggregate of damages that are owed to you. In most cases where physical injury has occurred, the defendant is, at the very least, required to pay for your medical expenses.
General Compensatory Damages
General compensatory damages are awarded to those plaintiffs seeking value in claims that are rather non-specific. General compensatory damages are factored into most personal injury cases and include mental anguish, general suffering and pain, and loss of companionship. In other words, general compensatory damages seek to put a monetary value on those things and experiences that don't necessarily have a monetary value.
Specific Compensatory Damages
Specific or "special" compensatory damages are owed to a plaintiff for very specific monetary damages incurred. In other words, while general compensatory damages seek to reimburse the plaintiff for things that don't have a specific dollar value, specific compensatory damages seek to restore items or bills that do, in fact, have a monetary value. Most specific compensatory damages seek to make the owner "whole" or restore the entire monetary value of what was lost during the injury. There are a number of items to which specific compensatory damages can apply, including medical bills, loss of future income, damage to property, cost of household expenses and cost associated with trips related to the injury in question. Although there isn't a specific maximum amount to which defendants can be awarded, specific compensatory claims rarely exceed the cash value incurred by the injury and related expenses.
In addition to the above cases, there may be certain instances where a defendant's negligence of behavior is considered particularly crass or egregious. In these cases, a judge can award the plaintiff punitive damages. Punitive damages are exactly as they sound: their intent is to punish the defendant for their behavior. The primary reason used to defend punitive damages is that of a deterrent; it hits the defendant right where it counts – their bank account. Perhaps the defendant will pay closer attention to their driving and behavior before performing actions that have the potential to be particularly injurious.
Going through the process of going to court to seek compensation for your accident and medical bills is an arduous one. Hopefully, this short list of definitions has helped you wrap your head around what exactly damages are and what sort of damages your lawyer will help you seek, making the whole process of going to court a bit easier on you.