In any civil lawsuit, the resolution is in the amount of money awarded at the end. While criminal law imposes penalties like imprisonment or probation, civil law is about allowing someone to personally seek compensation for a grievance committed against them. While money can’t undo an injury, it is meant to help make the injured party whole by trying to make up for the grievance.
The process of determining how much money is required can be very complicated. The main category a judge will use to decide how much compensation is required is that of compensatory damages. This category includes all money directly meant to make up for actual losses, injuries, and other effects suffered by the victim.
Many damages are monetary, which means they are linked to the financial losses you suffered. If you were physically injured, the majority of your compensatory damages are going to consist of medical expenses. This means everything from ambulance rides and emergency room visits to physical therapy and ongoing treatment.
Until you are completely recovered from the injury, you should document every dollar you spend on medical care. Your costs eligible for compensation will also include any mental healthcare you require because of the injury.
Lost Wages and Other Costs
You can also receive compensatory damages for other costs. If you’re not able to work as much because of your condition or you don’t have the ability to work at all, you can seek damages in the amount of the pay you would’ve earned if you’d been able to work.
Anything else that you have to spend money on as a result of the grievance, such as increased transportation costs, childcare, or special devices you otherwise wouldn’t need can also count toward the total compensatory damages.
Pain and Suffering
You can also be awarded compensation for emotional damages. These are non-monetary damages that are more subjective and difficult to assess with a dollar amount. It’s hard to tell how much money you might be awarded for some emotional damages without looking at legal precedents or speaking to a lawyer in your area.
Maybe your medical condition includes tremendous pain and discomfort. That counts for this category, but so do other problems in your life and family that arise as a result of the injury. Maybe you aren’t able to do all of the things you normally love to do, whether it’s a hobby or something as simple as enjoying a game with your family. If your relationships with loved ones suffer, you may also be eligible for compensation.
Punitive damages are not compensatory damages, and they only show up in certain lawsuits. They are assigned in a case when the judge thinks the compensatory damages aren’t enough to deter the defendant from doing the same thing in the future.
If you are suing a large company, the compensation for your injury alone might not be enough to discourage them from callous future misbehavior. In this case, the judge may tack on punitive damages in an effort to send a message that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness comes with heavy consequences.
If you’re involved in a lawsuit or considering suing, find an experienced lawyer to help you study your options. A good attorney can evaluate your particular situation and tell you what kinds of damages you might expect. They can also help you understand what types of documentation you will need to begin to pursue a civil suit.