Being involved in an accident where you suffer injury is never fun. It can be scary, traumatic, and painful. Working with a skilled attorney is important to be able to effectively prove the liability of the other party. If you are able to prove their negligence, you may be awarded compensation to cover costs and losses associated with the accident. Compensation can be considered compensatory or punitive damages. But what are the differences? Is one better than the other? Read on to find out. Speak with a Geneva, Illinois personal injury lawyer to discuss the details of your case and formulate the best course of action to ensure you are appropriately compensated.

When Are Damages Awarded?

Damages may be awarded when a claim or lawsuit is settled. They are given to people who were the victim of an accident or incident that was found to be the fault of another party. Some accidents where compensation and damages may be rewarded include the following.

  • Car accidents
  • Other motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Construction accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Worker’s compensation cases

Any time someone’s behavior or actions cause you injury or damage you can pursue legal action and potentially collect compensation.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are financial awards given to a victim of an accident. They are aptly named and act as compensation for the expenses and injuries that the person suffered at the hands of someone else. They act as reimbursement for losses associated with the accident or injury and are often referred to as “actual” damages. You might be awarded compensatory damage to cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Litigation costs
  • Pain and suffering

Essentially it is recognized that it is unfair for the victim to bear the burden of these costs when it is not their fault. Compensatory damages allow the defendant and liable party to reimburse the victim.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages do not cover any real financial losses. Instead, they aim to further penalize the defendant for their actions and behavior. Punitive damages are typically awarded in cases where the defendant is a large company or figure, or ones where they acted with extreme negligence and disregard of others. They act as punishment to deter the defendant and others from participating in that kind of reckless behavior.

How Are Damages Calculated?

Compensatory damages are more easily calculated because they are reimbursement for real expenses. You will have to provide proof of your expenses including repairs for property damage, medical costs like hospital bills, and the amount of wages you missed out on because you were unable to work.

Punitive damages are more subjective. In cases where punitive damages are awarded, the severity of the defendant’s actions and recklessness will be evaluated. Ultimately a court has the right to determine the value of punitive damages. Illinois does not have a limit on the amount of compensation a victim can be awarded.