Understanding the Differences Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages.
If you have sustained a personal injury as a result of negligence on the part of another, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries. But exactly what type of compensation can you expect to receive?
In the state of Maryland, you may be able to receive both punitive and compensatory damages. What is the difference between the two and what do they cover? Here is a brief tutorial to help increase your knowledge.
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate you for the costs and injuries you have sustained as a result of the accident. The award is an attempt to make you financially whole again.
For example, some of the money awarded may be a reimbursement for monies you have already spent out of pocket or expenses you have already incurred. Other monies may be awarded to compensate you for losses you may sustain in the future as a result of the accident.
Compensatory damages are broken down into two categories: actual and general damages.
Actual damages compensate you for your actual loss and nothing more. These may be looked at as your reimbursable expenses. These are things that you have already paid for or will have to pay for as a result of your accident. Examples of actual damages are:
- Domestic services
- Extended care costs
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Prescription drug costs
- Property reimbursement
These are all things that you should be able to easily submit a receipt for or place a price on. It is important to save your bills, receipts, and other evidence that these expenses have either been incurred or actually paid.
General damages are not supported by a monetary expenditure. These are sometimes calculated by multiplying your actual damages by a number related to the seriousness of your injury. Other courts will award you a specific daily dollar amount, or per diem, for the actual amount of time you were injured. Still other courts use a hybrid or their own method of coming up with general damages calculations.
General damages calculations can vary case by case and court by court. They are designed to award you damages for:
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Future lost wages
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of future employment opportunities
- Loss of life’s enjoyment
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
General damages can be much harder to calculate than actual damages.
In some special cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages. These damages are awarded at the court’s discretion in addition to compensatory damages. As their name reflects, punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are designed to punish someone for their wrong doing. The award is intended to deter the defendant from engaging in the action in the future.
Punitive damages are normally only awarded if there has been egregiously insidious action on the part of the defendant. You have to be able to show that the defendant proceeded to engage in an unlawful act knowing that it could ultimately result in injury or death. An example of this would be someone who drives knowing that they are intoxicated.
Unfortunately, no one can really repay you for what you have been through as a result of your accident, and obtaining the compensation you are entitled to can be a difficult task. Fortunately, The Jaklitsch Law Group is here to help you. With more than 50 years of combined legal knowledge and experience, we will work with you to get the compensation you are entitled to. Give us a call for your free initial consultation.