Compensatory damages are one of the most important parts of any accident and personal injury claim. Accidents are often life-changing events that result in injury, emotional distress, property damage, and time off from work. While it is impossible to fully put a dollar value on these problems, compensatory damages are there to help anyone involved in an accident be able to move on with their lives.
Because this is such a complicated topic, it is normal and common to have questions about compensatory damages. The following guide is designed to provide practical information and help you understand the benefits of working with an attorney to receive any compensation you are entitled to after an accident.
Understanding Compensatory Damages in Florida
Compensatory damages, also called actual damages, are defined as compensation awarded by the court in a civil lawsuit for any harm or injury a party suffered. The amount of compensatory damages decided by the court is based on proven loss, injury, and any other harm suffered by the plaintiff in a case. The actual sum will usually be based on a calculation of expenses, fair market value for damaged or lost property, lost wages, and emotional distress.
Another type of related damages are punitive damages, which can be awarded if the judge deems particular negligence and recklessness on the part of the defendant that requires punishment. Under Florida law, plaintiffs can seek both compensatory and punitive damages, with punitive damages limited by certain provisions under Statute 768.73.
Types of Compensatory Damages
The goal of compensatory damages is to make the person whole again. Compensatory damages can be awarded in any circumstance where negligence can be proven to have caused an accident that results in any type of harm. Types of accidents can include:
Compensatory damages are divided into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Compensatory Damages
Economic damages consist of expenses and lost or damaged property that can be easily calculated monetarily. Examples of economic compensatory damages include:
- Medical Bills: Any medical expenses, including surgery, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and incurred that can be directly tied to the accident are included as compensatory damages.
- Property Damage: Damages to personal property can include the fair market value of an automobile, clothing, electronic devices, damage to a home or office, or anything damaged or destroyed as a result of negligence. Compensatory damages should cover the cost of repairs or full replacement cost if irreparable or if cost of repair exceeds the total value of the property.
- Lost Wages: If the accident results in missed time from work, compensatory damages will cover any wages that were lost as a result. To be awarded compensation for lost wages, it needs to be proven that the injury caused the inability to work.
Non-Economic Compensatory Damages
These damages are awarded for harm or injury that cannot be calculated, but still resulted in pain and suffering and diminished quality of life. While more difficult to quantify, courts award this form of compensatory damage as money that could be used to help make a person whole again. Non-economic compensatory damages can include:
- Emotional Distress: Accidents can be stressful, traumatic, and horrifying. Even after medical treatment and psychological counseling, the trauma from the event can have a negative impact on quality of life.
- Loss of Consortium: If the accident results in a provable loss of the ability to have physical and/or emotional relationships with other people, this form of compensatory damage may be awarded.
- Inconvenience and Loss of Lifestyle: If the injury or damage results in a noticeable change in the ability to do normal activities, or favorite hobbies, this type of damage can be awarded.
The amount awarded in these cases can vary and are usually based on established precedent and previous awards for similar cases.
How an Attorney Can Help You Receive Compensatory Damages
Receiving full compensatory damages after any accident isn’t as simple as proving injuries. There is a lot of information that needs to be collected, including statements and interviews from witnesses, law enforcement, and other parties. Saying the wrong thing or getting insufficient testimony can leave you with less than you deserve. That’s why it’s critical to have an attorney specializing in personal injury in your corner.
A qualified and experienced attorney will conduct a thorough investigation and to collect all the information you need during the discovery process. The goal is to help you receive every dollar of compensation you are legally entitled to so you can move on with your life again.
Contact Clark Law Today for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love was involved in an accident that may be entitled to compensatory damages, call our dedicated team at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that you may lose out on your ability to file for certain types of damages or on your ability to obtain reliable evidence for your case.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.