Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case

In personal injury cases, there are two types of damages that may be awarded: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are damages that directly compensate the injured party for the harm they have suffered. This includes payments for previous and future medical bills, loss of earnings in the past and future, and household expenses relating to the injury such as the cost of hiring a housekeeper to perform tasks you are no longer physically able to do or modifications to your home to make it wheelchair accessible.

Compensatory damages also include payments for pain and suffering. In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada set a cap on the award for pain and suffering. With adjustments for inflation, the cap is set at approximately $340,000 for the most severe cases. The justification for this cap is that other types of damages have an easily verifiable cost, but no amount of money can truly provide restitution for serious injuries. Pain and suffering awards are intended to simply provide more money to make life endurable for the injured person.

Family members are also allowed to sue for compensatory damages related to a loss of care, companionship, and guidance as the result of the victim’s injuries. Spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brother and sisters of the injured party are eligible for this type of compensation.

Punitive damages are damages that are not directly linked to the harm that has been suffered. They are awarded in an attempt to punish the defendant for certain types of improper behavior, such as a gross recklessness or a willful disregard for the safety, health, and rights of others. The majority of personal injury cases do not include awards for punitive damages.

As you can see, there are many factors that go into the process of determining damages in a personal injury case. To learn more about what compensation you might be entitled to receive, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Based in Whitby/Oshawa, Conte & Associates is committed to helping accident victims receive the compensation they deserve. Call 1.877.614.008 to schedule an appointment today.

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