What Are Damages and What Do I Need To Know About Them?

Damages in a civil case are like the sentence in a criminal case. They are the punishment for whoever was at fault for the case. The party at fault has to give a certain amount of money to the other party in the case. This money is called damages.

Calculating the types and amounts of damages is one of the trickiest parts of a civil case. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Types of Damages

There are two main types of damages. The first is punitive damages. This is a monetary award given solely to punish the party that lost the case because of their wrongdoing. You can think of them as an “above and beyond” award to the winner of the case. Not all civil cases will award punitive damages.

The other type of damages is compensatory damages. This is a monetary award meant to compensate the injured party for whatever happened. The idea behind it is that when you are injured, there is a certain amount of money that will make you “whole” again, or at least as close as possible to how you were before the incident.

Sometimes this is impossible. If someone loses a limb, for instance, they will never receive full functionality again. In these cases, the courts will calculate a damage amount for the lost potential or enjoyment of life. It’s these tricky situations that make calculating compensatory damages hard to do.

Here are some types of compensatory damages:

Bills related to the injury

Any bill related to fixing property (e.g., your car) or to medical expenses will likely become part of any awarded damages. Any insurance policies that cover these things will have to be worked out first. Injured parties also have to be careful of accepting settlements that may not cover the full costs of medical care.

Lost income

Recovery from injuries takes time. If the injured party has a job, they will lose out on income. In extreme cases, they could even lose their job or reach a point where they could no longer work for the rest of their life. In all these cases, the court can calculate the amount of lost income and add that to the compensatory damages list.

Wrongful Death

In the tragic case of a death, the survivors of the deceased can sue for compensation for the resulting expenses. They could ask for funeral expenses, medical expenses, lost income, and general damages.

General Damages

This is a broad class of intangible injuries that don’t have a clear-cut dollar amount. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and loss of support are all examples. Much of the argument after a verdict is reached is how much these should be.

Your lawyer will know which types of damages will be valid for your case, as well as reasonable dollar amounts.