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

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

Each personal injury case is different and courts award compensation based on the individual facts and circumstances involved in a particular case. This can lead to confusion among plaintiffs, who don’t understand why the court awarded a certain type of compensation in one case but not another.

Although the subject of personal injury compensation is quite complex, a general overview of the two common types of damages might help you understand what type of damages the court is likely to award in your case.

Compensatory Damages – Compensating You for Your Expenses

Generally, a personal injury plaintiff is entitled to receive compensatory damages. These are damages that reimburse a plaintiff for out-of-pocket costs and losses. These damages may include medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and even emotional distress. Depending on the case, compensatory damages can include funds for a wide range of losses.

Punitive Damages – Punishing the Wrongdoer

By contrast, punitive damages are designed to punish the negligent party and deter others from behaving the same way. The court forces the wrongdoer to pay punitive damages to the plaintiff as a form of punishment.

In most cases, punitive damages are unavailable. These types of damages are typically only awarded in cases where a defendant’s behavior was extremely careless or malicious. For example, a motorist who causes an accident while driving drunk may have to pay punitive damages.

Florida Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s negligence, it’s important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can inform you of your options and help you determine the next steps in your case. Call Emerson Straw, PL at (727) 821-1500 to speak to an attorney about your case.