In a personal injury claim, the party initiating legal action (the plaintiff) can be awarded many different types of damages from the party responsible for the accident (the defendant). Damages are money that one party claims or that a court orders the defendant to pay to the plaintiff in response to the plaintiff’s suffering, injuries, property damage, and other losses. Different types of damages can be awarded depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Compensatory damages, or actual damages, are awarded to victims in order to compensate them for their losses, injuries, or other harm. In personal injury cases, compensatory damages are the most common form of damages awarded to the plaintiff.
- Punitive damages, also known as non-compensatory damages, differ from compensatory damages in that they are not awarded as a form of compensation for the injured party. Instead, punitive damages are awarded with the intent to punish or reform the defendant from committing the damaging act in the future.
Punitive damages can be awarded to the plaintiff if the defendant performed an act of “willful, wanton, or gross misconduct.” For example, a victim injured in a car accident by a drunk driver might seek compensatory damages from the driver to help cover the cost of medical expenses and property loss. In addition, the victim might also seek punitive damages in order to ensure that the negligent driver would never drive while intoxicated again.
In comparison to compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded relatively infrequently and are considered on a case-by-case basis. However, in many personal injury cases, it makes sense for the injured party to pursue punitive damages in addition to other types of compensation. For help with your case, contact the Iowa personal injury lawyers of LaMarca Law Group, P.C. today at 877-327-2600.