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Ask an Attorney: A Closer Look at Compensatory Damages

Last month we looked at what punitive damages are and how they are used. This month let’s take a closer look at compensatory damages. When attorneys talk about damages in a personal injury case, we are typically referring to a sum of money that the plaintiff is entitled to because of another’s negligence.

Damages typically come in two major categories: punitive and compensatory damages. Last month, we explored punitive damages, which are designed to punish the individual for their wrongdoing. By contrast, compensatory damages are intended to do exactly what the name suggests: compensate the injured person for their losses.

Compensatory damages are further broken down into economic damages (sometimes called “special damages”) and non-economic damages (sometimes called “general damages”).

Economic damages are monetary awards to plaintiffs for their out-of-pocket expenses which are incurred due to the defendant’s negligence. Examples of economic damages are lost wages, compensation for medical expenses past and future, and damage to personal property.

Non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for losses that are not readily quantifiable. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and disfigurement.

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC

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