Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages

When a lawsuit is decided in favor of the plaintiff, two main types of award or judgment can be given – compensatory damages and punitive damages. Though the two are both part of the plaintiff’s award, they are governed by different regulations and subject to different standards.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff in order to return him to where he would have been, had the injury or tort not occurred, i.e., direct compensation. These damages can also be split into two categories: special damages and general damages.

Special damages, as one might expect, are specific. They are damages awarded as direct compensation for injuries or losses which can be quantified, such as lost wages, past and future medical expenses, loss of earning ability, and other financial impacts of an incident.

General damages, on the other hand, are not easily quantifiable. These are damages awarded for less concrete but often very real injuries, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of capacity to enjoy life. Although these injuries cannot be formulaically translated into a sum of money, they are nonetheless valid claims in court.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are essentially penalties imposed on a defendant to deter future wrongdoing, and are not directly linked to the amount of injury suffered by the plaintiff.

In publicized cases, punitive damages are the often responsible for pushing the total verdict into the multi-million dollar range. Though much maligned as excessive and occasionally criticized as violations of due process, the legitimacy of punitive damages has been upheld, though limited, by the US Supreme Court.

Have you been injured because someone else was negligent? If so, a Wausau personal injury lawyer from Habush, Habush, & Rottier, S.C. may be able to help you recover compensation. To learn more, call 715-387-4242 today.

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