Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be pretty complex. It can be hard to know how much to ask for in damages and exactly what you should sue for. If you are filing a lawsuit in civil court, you might be wondering how the judge will decide what you get in damages. This depends on many factors. Some thing that every plaintiff needs to know is the difference between compensatory and punitive damages. Here is what you need to know about damages.
When you file a lawsuit, you will get compensatory damages. These are damages that are awarded to help cover the actual damages that you sustained. For instance, if you were in a car accident, the compensatory damages would cover things like the cost of repairing the car, medical bills, loss of wages and anything else you can prove as a loss.
With compensatory damages you will need to prove every single penny you ask for. You cannot simply throw out a number as an estimation. You need to go through and itemize the amount that you are asking for. This will help you to get the most out of your compensatory damages.
In addition, with this kind of damages the other party can be at fault without necessarily doing anything illegal or wrong. For instance, it could be that a car accident was caused because the guilty party answered their cell phone while driving. Although cell phone use while driving is irresponsible, the person did not purposefully cause the accident.
Punitive damages are not as commonly awarded. They are awarded when there was gross negligence on the part of the guilty party. These types of damages are not put in place to help the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff may get some of the money, the punitive damages are there to punish the defendant. If you get punitive damages it means that the plaintiff did something so egregious that they need to be punished. An example of this would be a company who marketed a weight loss supplement that they knew was harmful, and then this supplement causes the death of an individual. The family of this individual could then be deserving of punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
When you file your lawsuit talk to your personal injury lawyers about what you should ask for in damages. They might decide to ask for just compensatory damages, or punitive damages too.