Types Of Damages
The word "compensate" means "to offset an error or undesirable effect". Compensatory
damages, therefore, are meant to make up for an injury sustained by an individual.
There are two basic types of compensatory damages: actual and general. Actual
damages reimburse an individual for funds paid out-of-pocket for medical treatments,
lost wages, substitute transportation, property replacement or repair, and
rehabilitation. An accident victim can also sue for general damages, which
include estimates of loss not involving actual monetary expenditure. Mental
anguish, disfigurement, future medical expenses, future lost wages, long-term
pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of opportunity are all examples
of general damages.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for acts of gross negligence
or intentional misconduct that cause personal injury to the plaintiff. They
are not calculated by the extent of the actual injury, but rather are meant
to prevent the defendant or others in similar situations from allowing or
causing the same sort of accident to happen in the future. For example, if
a person intentionally runs an automobile into a pedestrian, punitive damages
may be appropriate.
In a case where the evidence of actual damages is slight, the courts may
still choose to award the plaintiff a small sum of money to acknowledge that
he or she was legally wronged by the defendant. These nominal damages may
only be sought in intentional tort cases where a physical injury to the plaintiff
is not required for a defendant to be found guilty. If the tort committed
is battery, for example, the defendant may indeed have shoved the plaintiff
in an offensive manner but without causing physical injury. The plaintiff
may then be awarded a minimal amount of nominal damages.
Court Costs and Attorney's Fees
If a personal injury case is settled in favor of the plaintiff, he or she
may also have recourse to recover some of the expenses of taking the case
to court. These court costs would include filing and process server fees,
obtaining deposition and court transcripts, and payment to translators. There
are some instances in which a plaintiff may also be able to recover attorney
and expert witness fees, but this is not as common.
Factors Affecting Amount of Damages Awarded
Amount of Damages
Types of Compensatory Damages