Punitive and Compensatory Damages
Published on:May 30, 2014

A personal injury lawsuit generally consists of claims for monetary compensation and requesting punitive damage. The extent of either amount depends on the severity of the injury and the impact it has created on the claimant’s life. A lawsuit should be started once negotiations with the accused are found to be fruitless. Naturally, the initiation of a claim should be started as soon as possible after the event. Personal Injury Lawsuits exist to compensate the injured party for expenses incurred in the event of an accident due to negligence or intentional wrongs on the part of an organization, company or individual.

Punitive Damages are in place to punish the wrong doer (the accused). Punitive damages are awarded in conjunction with a compensation indemnity rather than a stand-alone claim. They, for the sake of amount of the award, are linked to the compensatory amount.  The damages for punishment can be calculated based on precedent (statute) set in previous court cases of a similar nature.  Depending on the judge and individual circumstances, these amounts can surpass the compensatory damages by up to four times the claim. The monies are granted to the claimant as part of the damages and classified as a punishment. The sum of the punitive damages is also in place as a further deterrent to the company or person who is faulted with the accident. The defendant must be proven to have acted with extreme negligence, committed a blatant or intentional error, caused severe injury, or that the actions/circumstances showed malicious intent. Punitive damages, in other words are not to be considered guaranteed in the case of a victory, but rather understood to be premium as a part of the judges verdict.

Compensation Damages consist of a number of factors, but are essentially a calculation of costs of real loses that came about as a result of an injury. It is critical to keep track of expenses, take photos at the site of injury, write a diary (events following the incident), maintain good records and follow medical and legal advice. All points that have to do with your injury and circumstances are important, even in the smallest detail. This is an area where experts in Personal Injury Litigation and Negotiation are able to receive the highest compensation from the offender for their client.

This list is comprised of 8 areas with examples that require documentation in order to build the compensation claim.

  1. Loss of personal property – in the incidence of a fall; crushing prescription eye glasses and cracking the face of a watch.
  2. Property maintenance – in the event the victim is unable to perform regular household tasks and must hire outside help.
  3. Loss of income – inability to work for an undetermined amount of time. This portion is based on regular, documented income.
  4. Pain and suffering – self-explanatory, but must be well documented. This is where a diary would be used as evidence, as well as a memory tool.
  5. Medical treatment – e.g. all doctor’s visits, bandages, medications, x-rays. Receipts required.
  6. Future losses – this will come into effect should someone be attending school, up for a promotion or generally geared toward higher earnings at a future date. While it can be a bit tricky to prove, it can be explored and well presented by an experienced personal injury attorney.
  7. Emotional distress/stresses – often depression accompanies physical ailments. Is there a need for therapeutic counseling?  This would also be apparent in a journal (diary).
  8. Rehabilitation – recovery from the injury, either from home or hospice that may include physio-therapy, psycho- therapy or personal care.