In the context of civil law, the word “damages” means something different than, say, physical damage to personal possessions like your car or house. A plaintiff in a personal injury case may be awarded damages by a civil court due to monetary losses or physical or mental pain, to name a couple of reasons. This blog will dive further into the legal concept of damages, which is important to understand if you or someone close to you is trying to recover after a serious personal injury.
The main type of damages Texans need to know about is compensatory damages. The main goal of compensatory damages is to try to return the plaintiff (injury victim) to his or her financial conditions prior to the injury. In a general sense, plaintiffs seek compensatory damages to compensate them for the car accident or event that led to the injury. Compensatory damages are further divided into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are easily quantifiable for plaintiffs — especially if you saved copies of your medical bills and pay stubs. These damages typically include items like:
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Property damage
- Lost business opportunities
On the other hand, non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages are still considered to be compensatory damages because they are designed to compensate an injury victim. However, non-economic damages are intended to compensate for items like pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of consortium (losing companionship and affection for loved ones after an injury). These are harder to obtain in a personal injury lawsuit than economic damages, but you have a decent chance of getting non-economic damages after a traumatic accident.
Besides compensatory damages, plaintiffs may also seek to recover exemplary damages. Other states refer to this type of damages as punitive damages because its purpose is to punish egregious cases of negligence. However, a jury’s awarding of exemplary damages is rare. Texas law allows plaintiffs to recover exemplary damages in these three situations:
- Gross negligence
Texans are also limited in their ability to recover exemplary damages. Unless a plaintiff’s injury was the result of a felony, he or she can be awarded $200,000 in exemplary damages or twice the amount of compensatory damages (up to $750,000). There are also statutory limits on non-economic damages resulting from a medical malpractice or a case where the government is the defendant.
Our Firm Wants to Help
There is nothing that can completely bring you back to your state of being prior to your injury. What you can do, however, is hold the responsible party accountable and improve your financial status that suffered because of your injury. To do that, you need a personal injury attorney who will aggressively fight for you and your rights. Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy can help. Schedule your consultation today.