There are two types of damages when you win a personal injury lawsuit: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are further divided into economic and noneconomic damages. Keep in mind that different states assign different names to these damage types. A local personal injury lawyer can advise you of what they’re called in your state. There are many instances when filing a personal injury lawsuit is warranted, such as workplace accidents, DUI/DWI car accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, and more.
Economic damages generally consist of your medical and other expenses for which you receive bills. Examples of economic damages include such things as the following:
- Ambulance or air flight transport from the accident scene
- Emergency room assessment, testing and treatment expenses
- Hospitalization expenses
- Surgical expenses
- Prescription drug expenses
- Physical and occupational therapy expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Ongoing follow-up treatments, therapies and procedures
Interestingly enough, your economic damages also include your loss of income when your injuries make it impossible for you to work and earn a living. Also keep in mind that your economic damages apply to your future injury-related expenses and income losses as well as your current ones.
While you don’t receive any bills for your noneconomic damages, they nevertheless are just as real as your economic damages. Examples of noneconomic damages include such things as the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and grief
- Emotional distress
- Embarrassment over lingering disfiguring scars or having to use a wheelchair or wear a prosthesis in order to get around
- Loss of your ability to fully care for yourself and perform your daily tasks
- Loss of your ability to continue participating in the sports and lifestyle activities you enjoyed prior to your injuries
- Loss of your self esteem and feelings of self worth
- Loss of the overall enjoyment of your life
In rare situations, you may be able to recover punitive damages on top of your economic and noneconomic damages. Unlike the latter two damage types that are intended to compensate you for your losses, punitive damages are intended to financially punish the defendant for his or her egregious actions or failure to act in causing your injuries. In other words, the jury must find that the defendant acted in a particularly reprehensible manner in causing your injuries before it will award you punitive damages.
If the jury makes such a finding, however, your punitive damages likely will exceed the total of your economic and noneconomic damages. This is especially true if the defendant is a large corporation whose defective product or dangerous drug caused your injuries.