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Compensatory Damages & Actual Awards

Compensatory damages are paid to the plaintiff for losses that have actually occurred. Compensatory damages are for actual losses and in contrast to punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant or nominal damages, which are symbolic since no real damage has occurred. The idea behind awarding compensatory damages is to restore the plaintiff to the state or position they were in before the injury or property damage occurred.

 

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Compensatory damages are awarded before punitive damages by the courts and are the most common form of damages awarded to plaintiffs.

Common forms of compensatory damages include:

  • Lost wages (current and future)
  • Lost profits (current and future)
  • Hospital bills (current & future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Cost of home medical care (including medical equipment)
  • Physical rehabilitation costs
  • Psychotherapy costs
  • Property damage (replacement costs and loss of irreplaceable items)
  • Pre- judgment and post-judgment interest in awards
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of friends
  • Loss of respect in the community
  • Loss of consortium

Besides actual damages, compensatory damages are sometimes also called "special damages" by insurance companies. Beside the compensatory damages listed above, sometimes the court will also order the defendant to pay the plaintiff's legal fees. The legal fees may cover the cost of the lawyer, expert witnesses, court reporter fees, filing fees and other fees associated with bringing the action to trial.

Compensatory damages are different than restitution in that in compensatory damages, defendants are ordered to pay damages and with restitution, defendants are ordered to give up their gains. When claimants go to trial in personal injury cases, most often they are seeking both compensatory damages and punitive damages, though most often only compensatory damages are ordered by the courts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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