Determining Fault In An Accident

An Introduction To Various Legal Damages

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, you have probably heard about different kinds of damages. However, you might not know what the difference is between the categories. To help you plan out your lawsuit, here is an explanation of some of the most common types of damages and why the distinctions are important:

Compensatory Damages

The first and most common category is your run-of-the-mill compensatory damages. In other words, this includes medical bills, auto repair bills, loss of potential earnings, and the like. If you lost a quantifiable and provable amount of money as a result of your injury, then your lawsuit should include compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages are also very useful because they are rarely limited by state laws. While punitive and non-economic damages are frequently subjected to damage caps, basic compensatory damages are not.

Non-Economic Compensatory Damages

In this category, you have hardships that are much more difficult to translate into a number of dollars. You could argue that your pain and suffering was worth X dollars, that the loss of companionship on behalf of your spouse was worth Y dollars, or even that the damage to your general psychological state was worth Z dollars.

These are frequently limited by law, which means that you will need to be cognizant of your state's laws when it comes to damage caps.

Punitive Damages

In some specific cases, your case might warrant filing for punitive damages. However, this is a pretty rare occurrence, since it is quite difficult to actually win punitive damages. You will need to successfully prove that the other party was massively negligent and that they need to be punished beyond the scope of your compensatory damages. The general idea is that a negligence toll will incentivize the defendant to change their policies and behavior in the future.

Again, these damages are quite heavily regulated in many states, so you will want to double-check the applicable laws before diving into the world of punitive damages.

Wrongful Death Damages

Finally, you could be pursuing wrongful death damages, which are generally in the vein of the compensatory damages listed above. You can simultaneously file wrongful death damages for funeral costs, medical costs, pain and suffering, and a variety of other factors.

In many cases, states have different laws regarding pain and suffering in a wrongful death lawsuit vs pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit where the injured party is still alive. This leads to situations where there are caps on how much you can ask for pain and suffering on your own behalf, but no caps when you seek pain and suffering damages following the death of a loved one. 

To learn more, visit a website like