What Are Compensatory Damages?

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What Are Compensatory Damages?

In a personal injury lawsuit, compensatory damages cover most of the plaintiff’s losses. Compensatory damages are meant to "compensate" the victim for their losses. In a personal injury lawsuit, compensatory damages are often the main form of legal relief for the victim. Other damages can result, such as punitive damages; however, it is the compensatory damages award that directly addresses the losses caused by the defendant’s acts.

What Do Compensatory Damages Cover?

Compensatory damages cover losses and financial costs that are directly caused by the defendant. These include:

Losses that are not so directly related may be covered by other types of damages. For instance, secondary losses such as a loss of business reputation due to the injury may be covered by special damages or other categories of damages.

Are There Any Limits to Compensatory Damages?

There usually aren’t any limits to compensatory damages. Unlike limits on punitive damages, which can be very strict, compensatory damages are really only limited by the injuries or losses themselves. The compensatory damages are usually supported by direct evidence such as receipts, bills, and other paperwork showing how much the plaintiff lost. Thus, compensatory damages simply reimburse the plaintiff for their expenditures related to the accident.

On the other hand, compensatory damages must be "calculable" to a certain degree of specificity. This means that damages that are difficult to calculate or that are speculative may not be included in a compensatory damages award. An example of this is pain and suffering, which is sometimes difficult to calculate in terms of dollar amounts. These types of damages are sometimes included under separate categories for personal injury awards.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Compensatory Damages Request?

Compensatory damages can often be fairly straightforward to calculate, but at times they can also be complicated. This is because the plaintiff sometimes suffers an entire mix of different expenses, like hospital payments, insurance costs, and other fees. Thus, it’s usually necessary to hire a lawyer if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. Your attorney can advise you on your rights and can help you when it comes to getting the type of damages award that is appropriate for your situation.

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Last Modified: 07-17-2015 09:44 PM PDT

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