There are a number of different forms that the damages sought in personal injury claims can take, though compensatory damages are by far the most common awarded in civil lawsuits.
Compensatory damages, sometimes referred to as actual damages, are awarded for financial or economic losses the claimant suffers due to his or her injuries.
Compensatory damages can also include non-economic losses the claimant suffers, like pain and suffering, or other more difficult to quantify concepts, such as loss of consortium, for example. These non-economic damages are sometimes called general damages.
Compensatory damages in the economic or financial category often include items like:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Cost of household help
- Loss of future earnings ability
Compensatory damages in the non-economic category may include, among others:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of reputation
With financial or economic-based compensatory damages, the amount of damages awarded typically matches the actual financial losses the claimant has suffered due to his or her injuries.
With non-economic compensatory damages, on the other hand, the amount of damages awarded must be determined through other means. The court generally attempts to assign a “fair” or “reasonable” dollar figure to the non-financial loss in order to compensate the claimant for his or her general damages.