Personal injury lawsuits fall under an area of civil law known as tort claims. A tort occurs when one person commits civil misconduct against another, resulting in damages. Some torts like assault and battery are intentional, while personal injury and medical malpractice are negligent.
Negligent torts occur when one party knew or should have known his or her actions could potentially harm someone but failed to take reasonable steps and prevent the injury. In these situations, victims can file personal injury lawsuits to recover compensation and be made whole again under the law.
There are two main types of recovery in lawsuits: compensatory damages and punitive damages. These awards cover a variety of injuries, including lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punishment for the defendant’s egregious behavior. The type of damages recovered in a case depends on a variety of factors, including the injuries sustained, recovery time, amount of medical bills, and other factors.
Sometimes referred to as actual damages, compensatory damages are monetary awards handed down to plaintiffs as payment for the harm suffered because of someone’s negligence. While no amount of money can undo the injury sustained, the law prescribes compensatory damages as a way for plaintiffs to be made whole again.
Generally, compensatory damages are either pecuniary (monetary) or non-monetary. Pecuniary damages are much easier for courts to quantify since plaintiffs can show documentation for medical bills, pay stubs for lost wages while recovering from injury, and estimates for property damage.