Portrait of young woman using laptop at cafe she is working on laptop computer at a coffee shop

Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages: What’s the Difference?

If you have been injured due to another party’s negligence, you can seek relief through civil court. When an injured party is successful in their case, they may be awarded monetary compensation to cover their losses. Generally, two types of damages can be awarded to a victim: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate victims for the losses they face due to their injuries, while punitive damages aim to punish the defendant. Understanding the differences between the two awards is imperative to mitigate confusion and ensure a just resolution. Please continue reading to learn how our experienced Bradenton Personal Injury Lawyers can help you navigate these complex matters and provide a fair outcome.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory, general, or actual damages are awarded by the court to reimburse plaintiffs for the losses they have suffered due to the negligence of another person or entity. This restitution is intended to restore them to “pre-accident” condition. These damages are broken down into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages encompass quantifiable losses, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, household services, and any other out-of-pocket financial losses directly resulting from the accident or injury. These damages are typically easy to calculate, as they can be shown through receipts. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep records of all those expenditures. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more complicated to calculate because they encompass subjective losses. These are intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages represent the non-financial impact of the accident or injury on the plaintiff’s quality of life.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive or exemplary damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their egregious behavior. Punitive damages are much different than compensatory damages because they are not intended to reimburse the plaintiff for any economic losses they’ve incurred due to their injury. Instead, they are commonly sought after in personal injury cases where a defendant is deemed grossly negligent to deter others from engaging in similar actions. For instance, punitive damages may be awarded in drunk driving cases. While punitive damages are rarely awarded, they can sometimes be added to compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages awarded can vary greatly depending on the severity of the defendant’s actions.

If you have been injured due to another party’s negligence and believe you are entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from Becker & Lindauer, LLC, who can help you fight the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled to.