A personal injury case is made by the plaintiff's ability to prove negligence. When the defendant contributed to the cause of the injuries, directly or indirectly, the court may award the plaintiff a financial award, also known as damages. There are three main types of financial awards handed down by a court, and a plaintiff may get a recovery in one or all three categories. Discover what these awards are called and how the judge decides to grant them.
When someone files a personal injury lawsuit, it is because the defendant caused damage to their body, personal property or both. The plaintiff often wants to recover money for the unexpected toll the injury has taken on their livelihood and family life. Special damages are the first and most common awarded in a personal injury action. This is a payback of sorts for the money plaintiff expended or lost in connection with the injuries. The plaintiff can show how the defendant cost them money. The most common special damages include compensation for things such as:
While money cannot necessarily replace what someone lost after a crash, it can help. Aside from special damages meant to repay actual financial losses, compensatory damages are awarded to help make up for the emotional and mental toll injuries can take. A court will not award compensatory damages without awarding special damages. Compensatory awards deal with those unseen and intangible side effects of an incident. Pain and mental anguish are the top two reasons the court awards compensatory damages. While these do not have a dollar figure attached, testimony from medical experts, family members, and the plaintiff can establish how the injury reshaped their lives.
A personal injury lawsuit is done in civil court. There is no sentence handed down to punish as in a criminal proceeding. This does not mean that a defendant is not being prosecuted in criminal court because if the incident contained a criminal element, they might face punishment. In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge may impose punitive damages. This is a financial award that is completely at the discretion of the judge. It is not requested by the plaintiff, as special and compensatory damages are. Punitive damages are meant to be a way that the judge can punish the defendant for causing the incident leading to the plaintiff's injuries.
As the lawyers at Cohen & Cohen can attest, money cannot make a person whole after an injury, but it may lessen the family's burden. A personal injury attorney can assist an injured person recover damages from the negligent party.
Chris lives in Alexandria, Louisiana where he enjoys playing with his girls and being the best husband he can possibly be.