Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages: Understanding the Differences

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Victims of an accident are usually provided a monetary award as compensation for their losses. Damages typically cover financial losses, such as wages or medical bills, but they can also compensate for emotional trauma or other forms of suffering.

There are two common types of damages: compensatory and punitive. While both types of damages can be awarded to the plaintiff, they cover different losses and serve different purposes. Personal injury settlements often depend heavily on the damages available, so knowing the difference between the two is essential.

A personal injury lawyer can teach you more about damages, explain what may be available in your case, and help you pursue maximum compensation. Have you been injured due to another person’s negligence in Rhode Island? Call Attorney Louis W. Grande to get started on your personal injury case.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are most commonly awarded in personal injury cases. They reimburse injury victims for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic losses encompass various non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are less common than compensatory damages and are very rarely awarded.  Courts award punitive damages to the plaintiff to punish the defendant. The court usually provides punitive damages when the defendant’s behavior is particularly egregious, like in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence. The Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

The main difference between these types of damages is their purposes. Compensatory damages reimburse for the victim’s losses, both financially and otherwise. For instance, if the injured party is now disabled from the accident, they can be awarded compensatory damages for the medical expenses, lost wages, and decreased quality of life–all due to their disability.

Meanwhile, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for future egregious conduct. Such awards also deter others from acting in a similar manner.

How Are Damages Calculated?

It can be difficult to calculate compensatory Economic damages can be proved through physical evidence, such as medical records, police reports, and other bills. Still, you may need a financial expert to estimate future expenses and a dollar amount for your lost wages. Non-economic damages are also tricky to calculate because there’s no concrete way to prove pain and suffering. Medical testimony is often required to get the maximum amount of money for your injury.

Limitations on Damages

The state of Rhode Island doesn’t cap the limit of compensatory damages. The amount of money the plaintiff receives for compensatory damages depends on the severity of their injuries and the amount of insurance coverage available to the parties.

FAQ: Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages

Do I need a lawyer to be compensated for my damages?

You technically don’t need a lawyer to be compensated for your damages. However, you may receive a much smaller amount without the help of a personal injury attorney. The other person’s insurance company may offer a lowball settlement for your damages. A lawyer will try to maximize your compensation amount through negotiations.

How do I prove my damages?

There are several ways you can prove your damages. For example, you can provide receipts, payment records, and bills. It’s crucial to save all documents, such as medical bills and invoices, to prove your injuries. Other forms of physical evidence, such as photos and video footage, can be used to verify your damages. A lawyer can help you compile this information for court evidence.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Attorney Louis W. Grande understands how devastating a personal injury accident can be. Our team is here to help clients earn the compensation they deserve. Call a personal injury lawyer at the Louis W. Grande law firm if you’ve been injured in Rhode Island. Contact us today to schedule your free no-obligation consultation.

Author Bio

Louis W. Grande is a Providence personal injury lawyer who founded his Rhode Island law firm of the same name in 2010. With more than 32 years of experience practicing law, he has successfully represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including car accidents, premise liability, dog bites, medical malpractice, product liability, and other personal injury actions.

Louis received his Juris Doctor from the Hamline University School of Law and is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded Lifetime Achievement in 2017 by America’s Top 100 Attorneys and being named among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Top 25 Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers in 2017.

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