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What Are the Differences Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages?

woman-wheelchair-mirrorInjury victims in Georgia may be able to recover multiple forms of compensation, depending on the details of their situation. Although most victims will most likely receive what is known as compensatory damages, there are certain situations when punitive damages might be available as well. If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident due to negligence, we recommend speaking with a licensed attorney.  

The Savannah personal injury attorneys at Roden Law are prepared to help advocate for your rights while holding at-fault parties liable for the full extent of your damages, should you have a valid claim.  Our attorneys know how difficult it can be for injury victims and their families after a serious accident.  

We offer a free consultation and work on contingency, which means you pay us nothing unless we recover funds for you. You are not obligated to hire us, even after your complimentary consultation.

Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

When an injury victim is awarded compensation to cover medical costs, lost income from missing work, pain and suffering and property damage, these are known as compensatory damages. For example, if you were hurt in a car crash, forced to miss work for several weeks and sustained damage to your vehicle, you could receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and property damage.

Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

While compensatory damages are designed to help the injured victim, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. Although rare, these types of damages are deployed to deter the at-fault party and others from repeating the same reckless behavior. Punitive damages are enforced when the courts decide that compensatory damages are insufficient to cover the full extent of damages sustained by the injured victim.

What Are the Differences? 

One main difference between compensatory and punitive damages is that each is designed to have different affects to the two opposing sides of a personal injury claim. Compensatory damages are given to the injured victim to help pay for medical expenses and other damages created, while punitive damages are meant to penalize the at-fault party.

The other main difference between the two is that compensatory damages are much more common as opposed to punitive damages. In Georgia, punitive damages are only awarded when the court decides the guilty party has intentionally participated in gross negligence, malice, willful misconduct, wantonness or fraud.  

Some Examples When These Damages Could Be Awarded

Compensatory damages could be awarded in just about any personal injury claim that was created by the negligence of another individual or entity. These damages are usually awarded in the following types of accidents:

  • Car crashes
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle crashes
  • Bicycle collisions
  • Boating accidents
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Construction accidents
  • Workplace injuries

Some of the most common compensatory damages awarded in a personal injury claim are:

  • Medical expenses (past, present and future costs)
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental trauma
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship

Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases where the guilty party knowingly acted without regard to the safety and well-being of others. Such cases might include:

  • Cases that the at-fault party appeared to cause intentional harm to the victim
  • Lawsuits where the plaintiff was seriously injured
  • Medical malpractice claims where negligence caused severe injury or death
  • Class action lawsuits where several people were hurt
  • Cases that are deemed to have been motivated by evil intentions, where the guilty party took part in malicious activity that is viewed as unacceptable social behavior.   

In Georgia, you can only obtain punitive damages if you or your lawyer specifically files a complaint asking for these damages.

Reach Out to a Qualified Attorney Today

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that could have been prevented, if not for the negligence of another party, we suggest contacting a qualified personal injury attorney immediately.

The Savannah personal injury attorneys at Roden Law are ready to review your claim in a free consultation. There is no obligation to retain our legal services and you will not be charged any fees unless we win compensation for you.   

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