When it comes to civil litigation, damages are the monetary amount a court can award a plaintiff. Damages are meant to compensate one for things such as injury, property damage, medical bills, lost income, along with additional damages that are a result of the issue presented in the case. However, there are two main types of damages that can be awarded within a civil case; compensatory damages and punitive damages.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
These types of damages, often referred to as actual damages, are the main type of damages a civil court can award the plaintiff. Compensatory damages, as the name suggests, are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the physical losses they have incurred. Compensatory damages can be awarded for such things as loss of income, bodily injury, property damage, etc.
In litigation pertaining to an automotive accident, the plaintiff may file a claim for vehicle repair, medical bills, and any income that was lost as a result of taking time off from work to tend to an injury that directly relates to the case. In these cases, the plaintiff would need to prove in court the loss sustained, the amount of the loss, and that the defendant was the responsible party.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages can be quite controversial, as they are damages that would be in addition to already awarded compensatory damages. Punitive damages are meant to reprimand a defendant for their recklessness or negligence. Not only is this type of damage award meant to punish the defendant for his/her behavior leading to the incident, but used as a deterrent for the same behavior from the general public. Courts that award punitive damages indicate to others that such actions and behavior will not be tolerated and can lead to monetary consequences.
As an example, in litigation pertaining to an automotive accident; if the crash was caused by a defendant who was impaired by alcohol at the time of the incident, then most likely punitive damages can be claimed by the plaintiff.