What is the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages?
When victims of serious personal injury are eligible to receive damages from a responsible individual or company, there are two main kinds of damages that are recoverable: Compensatory damages and punitive damages. These two categories may be split into further categories, but for most purposes, understanding the difference between compensatory and punitive damages is sufficient.
Not everybody will be able to sue for both kinds of damages, and although compensatory damages are the most common form of damages, there are cases where punitive damages are available as well. If you have been injured in a personal injury case, a qualified Illinois attorney can help you determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
Compensatory damages are awarded to the victim of negligence or other unlawful behavior and are intended to cover the expenses associated with the victim’s pain, suffering, and losses. Among the costs compensatory damages can cover include:
Medical costs, including ambulance fees, hospital costs, drugs, and rehabilitative care
Domestic services, such as at-home nurses
Increased living expenses
Lost income from missed work
Compensation for pain and suffering
Each of these categories may be divided into many different areas. For example, the category of “pain and suffering” can include physical pain, inconvenience, loss of quality of life and future opportunities, loss of consortium, and more. For compensatory damages to be an option, the victim must prove that these losses occurred because of the actions of the defendant and the victim, and their attorney must justify the amount of the losses before a judge or jury.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Compensatory damages are meant to help the victim, but punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for acts of gross negligence, malice, fraud, and other similar behaviors and to deter these behaviors from occurring in the future. Punitive damages may also be awarded by a court that decides compensatory damages are not enough to fully cover the extent of the damage inflicted on the victim.
Meet with a Glen Ellyn Personal Injury Attorney
Following a disaster, the experienced Cook County personal injury attorneys with Schwartz Injury Law are committed to helping individuals and their loved ones pursue the financial compensation to which they are entitled. We have an outstanding history of obtaining successful verdicts and are committed to leaving no stone unturned in your case. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. Call us at 708-226-9000.