Personal Injury Recovery

Personal Injury Recovery: Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages

Being properly compensated for personal injuries following a car accident can be challenging for the typical injured victim. Problems such as limited insurance coverage for negligent drivers and respondents who are denying responsibility are common with almost every accident unless the material case factors are obvious. This is especially true when an accident results in a fatality or the opposing driver has been arrested following the collision and cannot qualify for bail. Criminal issues tend to take precedent initially, and collecting compensation from an incarcerated individual can be difficult.

The novice injured accident claimant often does not understand exactly what can be claimed or just how valuable their claim may be, and having an experienced attorney who understands the nature of compensatory damages is always vital for whole financial recovery. Injured parties only have one opportunity at justice in the court system, and it is important to make that opportunity count when civil litigation is impending by understanding the types of compensatory damages that may be available.

Special Damages

Special damages can be calculated in discrete numbers and totaled for a specific dollar value. These are claims for expenses associated with rehabilitating from the injury when possible and claims for lost wages when an injured victim cannot work after the fact. These items are both considered actual damages, as are property damage claims when a claimant’s vehicle was involved in the accident. Of course, many accident injuries are permanent and potentially catastrophic. These injury claims will also include ongoing medical problems that will require financial coverage, further enhancing the amount of this particular component of a settlement. Any claimable expenses that can be filed to an exact amount fall in this actual damages class, and the amount can be important when extended damages are evaluated and determined by a multiplication process.

Other Compensatory Damages

There are also general claims that can be submitted as damages exceeding simple compensation in an injury case. The primary claim in this category is non-economic compensatory damages for pain-and-suffering as a result of the accident causing the injury. General damage claims can also include compensation for mental anguish that can also generate more financial value for the claim, especially when injuries and outcomes are very serious or permanent.

Punitive Damages

The most significant amount of compensation in an accident settlement is usually associated with punitive damages when an experienced auto accident injury attorney can prove gross negligence on the part of the responsible driver. A punitive damages lawsuit is always strongly defended by both the defendant and their insurance provider because it could maximize an insurance claim or even go beyond the cap for the defending driver. Actually, when the defendant has a large amount of insurance, civil litigation will often be the result when claims are filed. Punitive damages can only be awarded by a jury that is sympathetic to the plight of the plaintiff, often issuing an extensive punitive financial award verdict when gross negligence is proven in a trial following a punitive damages lawsuit pursuing damages exceeding simple compensation.

Reduced Damages

It is also important for injured victims to understand that the total value of a claim can be reduced based on their personal involvement in causing the injury. All drivers in an auto accident case are evaluated for comparative negligence, and the final percentage will be used to reduce the degree of liability for the respondent litigant. It also will be used to discount the amount of compensation allowed for a plaintiff who was driving at the time of the collision. This can be a very important issue when a claim is being negotiated, and it is often the primary problem when negotiations break down because this element of a claim can only be officially determined in a jury trial. Different states use different negligence law, and sometimes the law denies compensation to drivers who are over 50% responsible for their own accident injuries. In states using pure comparative negligence law, only those totally at fault are denied insurance claim benefits.

Always Retain an Experienced Accident Attorney

It is never a good decision to attempt handling an accident claim personally because the nature of compensatory damages can easily complicate the case. Insurance adjusters are trained professional negotiators, and all injured accident victims need their own professional legal team representing their case who will focus on maximum damages. The attorney you choose can make a difference, and it is always best to have a law firm with a long track record of success for their injured clients.

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