What are compensatory damages?
At the heart of a financial award in a personal injury case are compensatory damages, according to Cornell University School of Law. Compensatory damages are designed to provide financial remuneration to an injured person.
Types of Compensatory Damages
There are two general types of compensatory damages awarded in a personal injury case in the United States, including in the state of New York, according to Investopedia. These are called special and general compensatory damages.
Special compensatory damages represent money paid to an injured person for specific types of tangible losses. These losses include medical bills and expenses, property damage or loss, and lost wages.
General damages consist of financial payment for issues like pain and suffering. Money paid to compensate for mental anguish and emotional distress also constitute general damages.
Future Compensatory Damages
An personal injury attorney will fight to ensure that you obtain comprehensive compensation in your accident case. The reality is that in the aftermath of an accident, you can be entitled to compensatory damages not only for your existing losses but for those you reasonably can be expected to face in the future.
Following an accident, you likely will face an ongoing need for medical care and treatment. You may endure pain for an extended period of time. You may not be able to return to work any time soon. Indeed, you may never be able to return to the job you held before an accident. All of these represent the types of future or ongoing losses for which you can seek compensatory damages in an insurance claim or in a personal injury lawsuit.
Compensatory Versus Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages can be contrasted with what are known as punitive or exemplary damages. Punitive damages provide additional compensation in a case when a party’s conduct in causing an accident is considered to be particularly reckless.
Punitive damages can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. With that noted, punitive damages are the exception and not the rule in a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, there are caps on what can be awarded in the way of punitive damages.
Unlike compensatory damages which are designed to provide compensation for specific types of losses, punitive damages are designed to not only provide additional money in a particular case but to punish a party that caused an accident in the first instance. Punitive damages serve to provide a type of punishment to a party that caused an accident. The punishment is intended to sanction a party for particularly reckless of egregious conduct in causing an accident.
Insurance Companies and Compensatory Damages
The first stage in seeking compensatory damages following an accident is filing an insurance claim. An injured person like you needs to bear in mind that an insurance company is very likely to challenge some or all of the compensatory damages you seek in a claim.
An injured person must understand that an insurance company is in business for one primary reason. An insurer exists to make money for its shareholders. One way in which an insurance company increases its profits, and boosts its bottom line, is to limit the amount of money paid out in compensatory damages to injured people.
Retain a Skilled, Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
In order to ensure that you have a strong advocate in your fight to obtain appropriate compensatory damages in your accident case, you need to seriously consider seeking professional assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer. The first step in engaging a suitable personal injury law firm is scheduling what is known as an initial consultation.
During an initial consultation, legal counsel provides you an evaluation of your case, including information about compensatory damages. You are able to present questions you have about your case and compensation issues. As a matter of practice, you will not be charged a fee for an initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.