What Are Compensatory Damages?

When it comes to lawsuits, there are a few different outcomes that can occur, and they will depend on lots of different things.

If you win a lawsuit, you will often be entitled to a sum of money that is known as damages. These usually fall within punitive or compensatory damages, and both mean different things.

In this article, we are going to tell you all about what compensatory damages are, and what they could entitle you to, and even how they are different from punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

If the behavior of an individual caused you damages, injuries, or losses due to negligence, then you have the right to file a lawsuit against them to claim for these damages.

The actual amount that you will be able to claim will ary on the specific case and the outcome of the lawsuit, so there is no simple way to determine how much you would be entitled to.

To find out more about compensatory damages, just keep reading. 

What Are Compensatory Damages?

You might have also heard compensatory damages be referred to as substantial damages, and these are damages that are awarded depending on the losses of the claimant.

The purpose of compensatory damages is to compensate the claimant for both pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses.

Pecuniary losses are typically those surrounding the gains that have been prevented, and non-pecuniary losses are typically involving things like pain and suffering, loss of amenity and mental distress.

You could be claiming for both of these things at once, depending on the situation, but these are the two categories. 

What Type of Costs Can Be Compensatory Damages?

Honestly, almost anything can be classed as a compensatory damage and if the claimant was physically injured, then these damages could cover their medical bills, work that they might have missed for medical reasons, and any pay that they would miss out on in the future due to reduced ability to work.

There could be other medical issues that have occured from an accident or injury such as anxiety, PTSD, distress, and much more. Any symptoms that are preventing a person from working  or living their lives to the fullest will be taken into consideration for damages. 

When it comes to things that are not medical, a person may be able to seek compensation due to things like damaged property, the costs of repairs that need to take place, and the value of any property that was entirely destroyed.

Any damage that has occurred due to the actions of the person responsible can be claimed for here.

Type of Compensatory Damages

There are actually two different types of compensatory damages that you can claim for, and these include actual damages and general damages.

Both of these can be claimed for, but the things that you are claiming for will fall under one of these two categories.

 We are going to explain the differences between these two types of damages below, and some of the things that you might claim for within each type. 

Actual Damages

Actual awards are much easier to add up as they are based on actual expenses that the victim has incurred due to lots of different reasons.

Some of these things could include an injury due to an incident, including car accidents, and the medical expenses that come with this. 

However, as well as medical expenses, victims will be able to receive compensation for other things like lost wages due to missed work from an injury, any court or legal fees that are relating to the negligence, property damages, and more.

These costs are simple to evaluate as they can be proven with ease and there is typically always physical evidence to prove they exist. 

General Damages

General damages are much harder to add up in total as they can be quite subjective.

Often these are things that are not visible, like any mental health issues or trauma that have arised following the incident, emotional distress and suffering, and conditions like anxiety and PTSD. 

This could also include things like a shortened life expectancy, medical treatments that may be required long-term, and even things like defamation. Most of these things are difficult to provide evidence for, which is why they are covered under general damages.

Now that you know the two different types of damages that can be claimed, we will leave some examples of actual and general damages that could potentially be claimed for when necessary below.

Actual Compensatory Damages

  • Medical and hospital bills
  • Medical treatments
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Ambulance expenses
  • Medicine and Prescription drugs
  • Nursing home care
  • Domestic services
  • Medical equipment
  • Lost wages or lost employment income
  • Increased living expenses
  • Property replacement or repair
  • Transportation

General Compensatory Damages

  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Future medical expenses
  • Future lost wages
  • Long-term physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of opportunity

In order to be successful in getting compensatory damages awarded to you, the plaintiff has to be able to prove that the losses would have equated to monetary value.

This will then be determined by a judge or jury. As well as all of the compensatory damages that might occur, the plaintiff might also be able to claim for punitive damages as well to punish the defendant’s behavior.

What Are Punitive Damages?

The other type of damages that can be claimed for in certain circumstances are punitive damages.

Punitive damages are sometimes also referred to as exemplary damages, which are damages that have been assessed through the legal process in order to punish the defendant for negligence. 

These types of damages are usually in place to make an example out of the negligent party in order to discourage others from following the same behavior. 

A person can be ordered to pay punitive damages if someone has been injured due to their negligent behavior.

Such instances could include companies selling products that aren’t safe to use or even an individual that has been drunk driving. 

If the defendant made a conscious decision to engage in behavior that could harm someone else, then they may have to pay these damages.