Plaintiffs typically seek damages in cases of negligence. After suit has been filed, courts may award legal damages in the form of monetary compensation to a plaintiff. The law provides damages as relief to the injured party, and may take a variety of forms, including compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages. This article summarizes the various types of damages that may be recovered in an injury lawsuit.
Most commonly, courts award compensatory damages in negligence injury lawsuits. Compensatory damages compensate the injured party for the losses they have suffered because of the defendant’s negligent acts. Judges and juries may award these damages for both economic and non-economic losses, and may include:
- medical expenses
- lost wages
- emotional distress
- physical pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment of life
- lost wages
- punitive damages
In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages, which are intended to punish the negligent party and discourage them from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Usually, plaintiffs must prove the defendant acted recklessly to recover punitive damages. For example, juries may award punitive damages for injuries caused by a drunk driver when the defendant driver’s intoxication is proven.
State Laws Limit Damages
Many States passed tort reform legislation creating limitations on the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover in a negligence injury civil action. For example, some state laws provide statutory caps on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Many state laws limit the damages recoverable by patients injured by medical malpractice. Additionally, many states allow defendants to argue that the plaintiff themselves or a third party was partially responsible for the injuries to limit the amount of damages a judge and jury will award.
Damages may be awarded for both economic and non-economic losses. These include: medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. To recover damages, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury. Some States enacted laws limiting the amount of damages that injured plaintiffs can recover. Regardless of differences in state law, all plaintiffs must first file a complaint with the court and present evidence at trial to prove their case and recover damages. Therefore, you should hire an experienced trial lawyer if you have been injured due to someone’s wrongful acts.