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What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?


If another person's negligence caused your accident, you may be entitled to take legal action to recover compensation. As your case progresses, you may hear the term 'damages' come up throughout your conversations. But what are damages?

Damages refer to the costs associated with your accident. This includes the losses and expenses you suffered because of your injury. Essentially, monetary damages are awarded as a way to help make you whole or near the level you were at before you were injured. Of course, money can never erase your experience nor the lasting physical and/or psychological pain you suffered.

Generally, two types of damages can be awarded in a personal injury case: compensatory (with various subcategories) and punitive. We'll discuss both in more detail in this blog.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are those paid to you for accident-related harm you suffered.

Some compensatory damages are calculable, meaning receipts or other records exist to show what your expenses and losses have been or will be.

These types of damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical bills: The expenses for any medical care you have received or will need to treat your injuries will be included in your demand letter to the at-fault party's insurance.
  • Income: Suffering an injury may result in your missing work, which means you might lose wages for the time you're out. You may even need to be absent from employment for quite some time, diminishing your earning capacity. Compensation can reimburse you for such losses.
  • Property loss: If your property, such as your car, was damaged, you may be able to receive compensation for the value of the item.

Other damages are more complicated to determine a monetary amount for. That's because these types of losses don't have records of their value.

Such damages may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain/suffering and emotional distress: Any type of injury can be painful, and the pain can be temporary or long-lasting. Additionally, it might not always be physical pain. Being involved in an accident can be traumatic and may result in mental harm.
  • Loss of consortium: You or your spouse may have been injured in the accident. The harm either of you suffered might affect your relationship, as you may not be able to do together the things you did before the accident.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages may also be awarded to you. However, this type of compensation isn't meant to reimburse you for expenses or losses. Instead, it's imposed to punish the responsible party. Basically, punitive damages tell the defendant that they're actions come with severe consequences. Imposing them is a way to prevent the defendant from engaging in such conduct in the future.

It's important to note that punitive damages are awarded in rare cases and only when the defendant's conduct was especially negligent.

To learn more about damages in a personal injury case and what you may be able to collect in yours, contact our Norman lawyers at Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C. by calling (866) 590-8173.