The Difference Between Compensatory Damages & Punitive Damages After A Car Accident

When you pursue a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, the main point of your lawsuit is to pursue monetary compensation for the damage that was inflicted upon you. The two primary types of damage you can pursue after a car accident are compensatory damage and punitive damage. Compensatory damages are more common for vehicular personal injury lawsuits.

How Compensatory Damage Works in Car Accident Personal Injury Cases

The most common type of damage awarded after a car accident is compensatory damage. Compensatory damages are damages that are seen, from many people's perspective, as easier to quantify than other types of damage.

Tangible Damages

There are two types of compensatory damage. The first type of compensatory damage is tangible damages. These are damages that you can straight-up prove the financial impact of. The most straightforward type of compensatory damage is property damage, where you are compensated with either the actual value or the replacement value of the damaged property.

Tangible damages may still require a little guesswork though. Tangible damages include things such as lost wages in both the past and future. Tangible damages also include things such as past and upcoming medical charges. The past impact of lost wages and medical expenses can be directly calculated, and the future impact of lost wages and medical expenses can be intelligently calculated using informed information.

Intangible Damages

Compensatory damage also covers intangible damages. Intangible damages are damages that you or your family suffered as a result of the accident that are very real but a little more difficult to demonstrate and to put a number value on.

Common intangible damages after a car accident include things such as emotional distress if the party has had difficulty recovering emotionally from the actual accident or the impact the accident has on their lives. If the accident prevented you from enjoying things you were previously able to participate in, that falls under loss of enjoyment of life. If your relationships to your spouse or children were damaged at all, you can seek damage for that as well.

When you pursue a personal injury suit after a car accident, you need to have a clear idea of the damages you are seeking. Compensatory damages are most common after a car accident and include both tangible and intangible damages. It is your job to work with your attorney to accurately document and demonstrate the damages you have sustained and the value of those damages.