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Understanding the Types of Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases

When you sue someone for personal injury, the outcome of the suit will typically be compensatory rather than punitive. Rather than having a prosecution tasked with proving that a defendant is guilty of a crime, there will instead be a plaintiff trying to prove that they have been wronged by the defendant. As a plaintiff in a personal injury case, you need to know what sort of damages you can sue for. 

What are Damages?

Damages represent a monetary value affixed to the medical bills, property damage, suffering, loss of employment, and other injuries that can result from a negligent or purposefully injurious act. When you think about pursuing a injury case, you should sit down with a lawyer and talk about the immediate and long-term effects of any injuries you have received. 

Punitive Damages

In some cases, a judge may decide to award punitive damages. For example, if the defendant has acted particularly recklessly, then a judge might decide to assess damages beyond the losses suffered by a victim. These punitive damages are meant to deter the defendant from further reckless actions and may also serve to send a message to the community to avoid acting in similar ways. 

Compensatory Damages

As the name suggests, compensatory damages are meant to cover the losses that an injured party has suffered. These losses do not have to be limited to medical bills. In fact, a victim may sue for loss of wages during the time of convalescence as well as the loss of future wages due to a disability. A victim may also sue for physical pain and mental suffering. Most injury cases will result in the plaintiff paying some sort of compensatory damages, provided that the evidence presented warrants such action.

Nominal Damages

In some cases, a suit may reveal that a plaintiff is guilty of wrongful actions that resulted in no monetary losses. In these cases, the damages awarded are not meant to be compensatory in nature, but rather to serve the interest of justice. 

Before you pursue a civil case, you should discuss the details of your case with a personal injury lawyer, such as Barton Smith & Barton LLP. In some cases, you may have no hope of winning enough damages to even cover your court costs. In other cases, you might feel like you have the duty to pursue your case to protect future victims from similar treatment. A good lawyer will be able to advise you if it's wise to pursue your case and what sort of damages to ask for.