Compensatory Damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff, (injured party), of a lawsuit for what was lost due to the injury or accident. A compensatory amount is designed to make the plaintiff "whole" again based on the consequences of the accident. Sometimes these damages are easy to calculate: property damage, medical bills, loss of income, emotional distress, Etc. However, the more difficult to prove can be loss due to pain & suffering, or lack of ability to participate in hobbies caused by the injuries of the accident (loss of enjoyment). These are the types of damages that have potential to deliver a higher settlement or verdict because the damage to the "enjoyment of life" has the potential to be higher.
For example, if a person is injured in an auto accident and loses a leg as a result, they would be eligible for "loss of enjoyment" damages. That award may be much higher if the individual raced cars, was an avid cyclist or enjoyed an activity that inherently required the use of his or her legs.
Punitive Damages are awarded when the defendant is being "punished" for their actions, or lack thereof. Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages in order to make an example of, or punish the defendant for careless, negligent or intentional damages which were caused by the injury. Punitive damages help to deter actions from companies and make an example of egregious behavior by hurting the defendant's check book.
For example, in 2013 a Los Angeles jury awarded an individual plaintiff $28 BILLION dollars in punitive damages against tobacco maker Philip Morris, which was over 30,000 times the amount of her $850,000 compensatory award. (case summary here).
If you or a family member has been injured and you're looking for a Los Angeles accident attorney, please contact us today or have Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei help you determine the value of your personal injury case.