What Do Compensatory Damages Really Mean?
In personal injury cases, the Court will generally allow an injured plaintiff to recover two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages refer to a sum of money awarded to a person for a loss or injury suffered as a result of the negligent conduct of another person. They are meant to compensate a plaintiff for the injuries they have sustained and other related expenses. As a DC personal injury lawyer might explain, unlike punitive damages, compensatory damages are not intended to punish the defendant and they are not based on the wealth of the defendant; rather, they act as a fine to compensate the plaintiff for his or her injuries or losses and nothing more.
In order to recover compensatory damages, the damage must be foreseeable, reasonably certain (not speculative), and necessary to the type of injury sustained. Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in negligence cases such as automobile accidents, slip and falls, and even medical malpractice.
Recoverable compensatory damages can cover a wide variety of costs, including:
- Medical costs such as ambulance costs, hospital stays, rehabilitative facilities, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, home health aides, prescriptions, and medically necessary equipment like crutches
- Lost wages for time missed from work or for having to take a lower-paying job due to your injuries
- Pain & suffering associated with your injuries
- Physical changes to your body as a result of your injuries which may range from scarring to the loss of a limb.
Compensatory damages can include costs already expended, ongoing costs, and costs necessary for future treatment and expenses. Some damages, like medical costs, are easier to quantify because there is usually a bill that reflects the cost of treatment. Other damages, like pain and suffering, can be much harder to quantify, but that is exactly what juries in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia do on a regular basis. Compensatory damages are a major factor that our lawyers will take into account when evaluating your injuries and the value of your case.
Keep in mind that a plaintiff suffering from an injury has a responsibility to limit the expenses they incur as a result of their injury. For example, the medical treatment received must be reasonable and necessary to the injuries sustained, and if an injury causes you to miss work, you have a responsibility to miss as little work as possible.
If you were in an accident and are looking to seek compensatory damages for your injuries, call us today at 202-955-4529 to speak to a legal representative regarding your potential case.