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The Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages

In a personal injury case, especially those involving car accidents in Los Angeles suing for compensatory damages is pretty common especially as there will be clear proof that the claimant has incurred financial and property losses from the accident. But getting awarded for punitive damages may be a little tricky as you will need proof that the defendant’s malicious intent or recklessness caused the injury.

In order for you to have a solid punitive damage case, you will need to prove that the defendant is either intentional with harming you or reckless with his duty of care. It zeroes in on the defendants themselves unlike cases involving compensatory damages.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, compensatory damages are “awarded by a court equivalent to the loss a party suffered.” They take a hyper-focused look on the damages done to the claimants themselves and are less concerned with the intent or recklessness of the alleged perpetrator unlike cases suing for punitive damages. The amount awarded for compensatory damages is solely based on the losses that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the personal injury. Courts will often factor in property damage, lost earnings, wage loss, and other expenses that the plaintiff has to deal with since being injured. However, in the event that the claimant’s rights were squandered as a result of the other party’s actions but no harm or loss was acquired, then they may be able to sue for nominal damages.

Two Types of Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages can be divided into two categories. Economic damages, otherwise known as “special damages,” are pretty self-explanatory: it involves the incurred financial losses as a result of the injury. Non-Economic damages or “general damages” are broader in definition and are harder to prove as there is no receipt to back up said damage. Here are some examples of the two:

Economic Damages (“special damages”)

  • Medical Bills: You accrue some financial losses as you’re being wheeled to the hospital to get treated and thus deserve some compensation to recoup some of the money you owe to the hospital.
  • Personal Property Damages: This especially applies to vehicular accidents as the impact of the other car may require you to shell out some money to restore your car’s initial aesthetic and functionality.
  • Lost wages: As you recuperate from a car accident, you may also be entitled for some compensation for lost wages. Make sure to get your employer involved in the process so that they can provide you with the proper documentation needed to help your personal injury case.

Non-Economic Damages (“general damages”)

  • Emotional Distress: There’s really no easy way to answer how much you can get for emotional distress. After all, there really is no way to quantify emotional distress, but it’s still worth talking to your lawyer about how to accrue non-economic damages in this manner.

About Omega Law Group

If you have incurred a personal injury and suspect yourself entitled compensation for punitive damages, you need to contact Omega Law Group. Our awards and excellent testimonials are a result of our ability to empathize and attend to the needs of our clients. Here at Omega Law Group, you will come first. If you or a loved one is afflicted with an accident, reach out to our team. Visit our Contact Us page or call us at 866-942-3881.