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Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages

According to the Driver Knowledge website, 3 million people are injured in car crashes in the U.S. every year. If you are one of the millions of drivers who were involved in an accident due to another driver’s irresponsibility, you could be eligible to collect damages for your injuries in a civil court. Before you receive any awards for your injuries, you will first need to file a personal injury insurance claim and wait for the defendant’s insurance company to assess the damages you’re entitled to. The two types of damages you may collect are compensatory or punitive damages. The most obvious difference between the two is that they target different parties of a civil dispute.

Compensatory damages, or actual damages, are designed to focus solely on benefiting you, the plaintiff. They are awarded to cover any and all injuries and damages you sustained at the hands of a negligent driver. Is your car totaled? Did you injure any body part, forcing you to miss days from work due to excruciating pain? If the answer to these questions is yes, a compensatory award would account for all these circumstances and bear the costs so you, the victim, won’t be financially burden for someone else’s mistake.

As the name implies, punitive damages are awarded with the full intent of punishing the defendant for their negligence. Though careless drivers deserved to punished, you can only recover punitive damages in specific situations. Punitive damages are used as a deterrent for defendants, whose driving is so reckless that it completely disregards your rights. These types of damages are granted when the court deems that compensatory damages will not be enough reimburse you, the plaintiff, for everything you’ve been through. Punitive damages are rarely awarded. It is common for courts to reduce punitive damages, or even dismiss them. However, the very thought of receiving punitive damages often influences defendants’ insurance companies to offer increased payments to avoid harsh punishment.

If you are or anyone you know has been a victim of an irresponsible driver, please contact our office. Our personal injury attorney will be happy to help you build a case to receive the compensation you truly deserve.