Money And Punishment: What To Know About Damages
If you've been injured because of the careless or negligent actions of another person or business, you have the right to sue for money damages. What this means is that you can receive a certain dollar amount of money that is meant to cover certain specific things. There is another type of damage that is sometimes meted out as well, and that is known as punitive damages. Read on to learn about these two personal injury outcomes and how they might apply to your case.
When you are paid for specific things
You can get money damages for certain losses when you are hurt because of someone else. In a car wreck, for example, you might be entitled to the following damages, all of which are considered compensatory damages.
- Medical expenses
- Lost salary
- Pain and suffering
Personal property losses or damage
Most of the time, a personal injury case is concerned with just those damages listed above. There might a few other items on the list, but these damages all correspond with a distinct and verifiable form of damage. For example, if you slip and fall in a store, you will need to show proof of your ruined cell phone, your trip to the emergency room, and any missed work. Each form of compensatory damage is backed up by hard evidence with one exception.
Pain and suffering is on almost every list of damages, and it is usually based in part on the dollar amount of your medical expenses. That is only part of the calculation, however, since the way the accident has impacted your life can vary and is a major negotiating point.
When someone or something needs to be punished
You ask for compensatory damages when you file suit, but punitive damages may be added on by the judge or jury at will. Punitive damages are a dollar amount that you might consider a bonus amount tacked on to the final judgment. Not all personal injury cases will call for this form of damages. You might find it more often in class-action lawsuits or suits involving egregious wrong-doing on the part of a person or a large corporation.
Punitive damages are meant to send a message to others who might be negligent in the same way. For example, if the person who hit you and caused the accident was texting at the time of the wreck, it might be hoped that a large punitive award will catch the attention of the media and others who might practice the same bad driving habits.
If you've been harmed, speak to a personal injury attorney about your case. Contact a law firm like McMenamin & McMenamin, PS for more information.