Compensatory Versus Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Claims


Most personal injury cases result in compensatory damages being paid to the injured party, but these damages aren’t the only type assigned to those who cause injury through negligence. In some cases, further punishment may be deemed necessary. In these cases, punitive damages may also be applied. 

What’s the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are what you’re likely already familiar with, damages that are paid to the injured party as compensation for their injury, which is intended to both penalize the offender and provide the victim with funds often needed to cover medical bills and lost wages. Punitive damages take this a step further and are used in cases where the offending party acted with serious negligence, putting the victim into serious danger with little or no care for their safety. 

Punitive damages are meant to dissuade others from taking similar actions by making the punishment for doing so significantly larger. A common example of cases where punitive damages may be used is drunk driving which resulted in the serious injury or death of another person. They may also be used in situations where the offender may have the opportunity to act with negligence in the future, dissuading them from doing it again. The victim will receive any punitive damages assigned, even though their main objective is to further punish the negligent party for their actions. 

Punitive damages are limited to $250,000 in Georgia, except in cases of intentional harm, or where the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, especially in the case of drunk driving. Because the defendant made a voluntary decision that resulted in injury to another person, compensatory damages may be deemed not enough to dissuade them or other individuals from making a similar choice. 

Other types of damages, such as special damages meant to cover expenses as a result of an injury may also be assigned, depending on the circumstances of a case. This can include destroyed property, litigation costs, or lost wages due to injury and time spent in court. Every case is different, but a qualified personal injury attorney can help figure out what may be available. To find out what damages may apply to your case, and for legal counsel that can help make things right, call Attorney Robin Frazer Clark, P.C. at (404) 873-3700 today to schedule your free consultation.

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