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What Is the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages?

Posted by Yari Lawson | May 17, 2022 | 0 Comments

People turn to civil courts in sustaining serious injuries or physical damages as a result of an accident. Civil courts can help people get the most compensation to deal with their pain due to their injury. If the court favors the plaintiff in a civil case where an accident resulted in injuries (i.e., to the plaintiff due to the defendant party's actions), they can get monetary compensation to recoup their losses.

But what type of monetary reward you get depends on the damages that the victims sustain. Those two types of damages include punitive and compensatory damages. In this post, we will help you understand the difference between the two.

Punitive Damages

In simple words, punitive damages are punishments that the judge in a civil court will assign to the guilty party. The ideal reason is to prevent the same victim or other people from suffering from the same accidents or actions again.

Here's a list of the case types that can result in punitive damages being applied to the guilty party:

  • Defective product manufacture
  • Medical malpractice
  • Gross negligence
  • Anti-discrimination law violation
  • Life-threatening/dangerous conduct
  • Driving under influence
  • Intoxicated while driving
  • Criminal conduct with negligence

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages refer to the compensation that the victim receives for the losses and property damages they endured. You can think of it as compensation for the victim that helps them recover and cope with the sustained damages.

It can be in the form of reimbursement for medical bills and treatments or to cover any future costs resulting from the accident. It's best to learn about the importance of US laws dealing with punitive and compensatory damages regulation.

 This type of damage falls into two different categories: general damages and special damages. Check out what each type of damage covers:

General Damages

General damages aren't usually tangible and are easy to calculate due to their non-economic nature. They include: 

  • Worsened life quality
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Consortium loss
  • Negative effect on the reputation
  • Pain and suffering

Special Damages

Special damages are tangible and easy to calculate due to their economic nature. They include:

  • Loss of Irreplaceable Items 
  • Cost of litigation
  • Cost of transportation
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Wage loss/ future income loss
  • Damage property repair or replacement
  • Cost of home caretaking

Contact a Reliable Lawyer Near You

Are you struggling to make the right decision? If you think that you don't have enough experience, knowledge, and skills to fight your case, make sure you hire the right lawyer to help.

Lawyers specialize in dealing with such circumstances, and their mere knowledge of countless subjects makes them the ideal professionals to hire. A lawyer will help represent you in the court and pursue the case in your best interest.

They will work hard and try to tilt the case in your favor so you can get reimbursed for the damages that you sustained. Without waiting any more, seek the best lawyer near you if you or a loved one have been in an accident. 

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About the Author

Yari Lawson

Yari D. Lawson is a native of Eatonton, Georgia . He is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta , GA. Yari received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, School of Law.  Yari focuses his practice primarily on personal injury. Before going into private practice, Y...


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