Personal Injury Lawsuits and Types of Compensation
A personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation if you have had an injury, incurred property damage, or any other kind of loss. As the plaintiff, you may seek compensation from whoever contributed to or caused those losses. The legal term for personal injury compensation is “damages.”
There two basic categories of damages awarded in personal injury claims. These are compensatory damages and punitive damages.
There are many different types of compensatory damages but basically speaking, the damages are broken down into either general or special damages. Compensatory damages compensate or reimburse a person for the harm they have suffered. These types of damages are available in almost all injury cases — including auto accident, medical malpractice, and slip and fall cases. Compensatory damages may include medical bills, pay missed from taking too many sick days, and pay that may be lost in the future from a reduced capacity to work. Compensatory damages may also be awarded if the plaintiff was badly frightened and suffered nightmares, increased blood pressure, or other anxiety related symptoms which prevented him from working or fully enjoying his life. You could also seek damages for “emotional distress.” If property was damaged, compensatory damages could include the cost of any repairs or the value of any property that was destroyed
Compensatory damages are also awarded in wrongful death cases, but the damages available in these cases are often unique and not typically found elsewhere.
Punitive damages, however, are awarded only in a small number of cases. Punitive damages are not tied to the type of harm that has was suffered but are awarded to punish the wrongdoer for certain types of behavior. Punitive and compensatory damages are awarded directly to the injured party or plaintiff.
Special Compensatory Damages
Special damages seek in reimburse the injured party for monetary expenses incurred because of an injury. These damages are unique to the individual and vary significantly from one party to the next.
Special damages cover any expense or loss related to an injury, and there is no limit to the types of special damage claims that can be made, or to the amount an injured party can claim. The most common types of special damages are:
loss of earnings
loss of future earnings
cost of future medical care
household expenses, and
costs associated with cancelled trips or altered plans
General Compensatory Damages
General damages seek to compensate an individual for non-monetary damages incurred in an injury claim. General damages are called so because they address harm that is typically or “generally” sustained in an injury. Personal injury victims are expected to have at least some general damages. The most common types of general damages are:
pain and suffering
mental anguish, and
loss of consortium or companionship
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death claim attempts to provide compensation for surviving family and loved ones. The most common wrongful death damages include:
funeral and burial expenses
cost of pre-death medical care
emotional distress of surviving family and loved ones
loss of financial contribution
loss of services and support, and
loss of companionship and consortium
Punitive damages are only awarded to an injured plaintiff when the wrongful behavior of the defendant was despicable or reprehensible. Once scenario where punitive damages are awarded occurs when a defendant is found guilty of wanton or malicious acts or of fraud. These acts may include aggravated battery, sexual assault, or fraudulent behavior that causes widespread financial harm. Occasionally, in high-profile personal injury cases such as those involving defective products or health risks linked with prescription drugs, juries will award punitive damages against product manufacturers and other defendants who have “deep pockets.”
The plaintiff is awarded damages in a personal injury claim once a settlement has been reached or after a judgment/award in court. However, receiving the damages and collecting the damages are two very different things.
A defendant may or may not be able to satisfy the entire damages awarded or might be unwilling to pay. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer can help with the collection process by discovering undisclosed assets, placing liens on property, and garnishing wages. Often the defendant is inclined to pay because interest accrues on most damages awards until they are paid in full. If the defendant responsible for paying damages has liability insurance, the insurance company will usually pay a valid damages award or settlement without hassle, up to the liability limits
A personal injury lawyer is your best bet when filling a personal injury claim. The personal injury lawyers at Clekis Law Firm are waiting to assist you with your personal injury case.