Types of Damages a Lawsuit Can Recover


In civil lawsuits, the plaintiff is often seeking some form of compensation for a specific loss he or she believes has suffered because of the defendant’s wrongful act. The plaintiff can get relief from different avenues but the most popular form of compensation is that the plaintiff is awarded a monetary form of compensation. To understand the possible worth of a potential lawsuit, a plaintiff should know the various types of damages available to them via the court of law. Below are the different types of damages a lawsuit can recover.

Compensatory damages

These are somewhat the most common type of damages and may include amounts for property damage, lost income, and medical care as a result of the defendant’s misconduct. During litigation, an attorney obtains documents that enable him or her to seek a specified amount of compensatory damages depending on the injuries to the plaintiff or their property. The general principle underlying this type of damages is that the plaintiff should be awarded full and fair compensation to make him or her “whole again”. This is ideally the position the plaintiff would have been if the defendant did not commit the wrongful act.

General damages

These are damages that the plaintiff seeks together with compensatory damages. They are not as specific or as tangible as compensatory damages. Good examples include mental anguish, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. They may also include anticipated future losses due to the plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity. Some people file a lawsuit and seek general damages because of future losses because of loss of future medical care. Important factors to consider when calculating the potential value of this type of damage include the plaintiff’s income, age, occupation, and severity of the injuries suffered. The permanency of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff also influences the potential value of this type of damage. They may also be compensation for past and present losses.

Punitive damages

This type of damages is sought to punish the defendant for certain egregious conduct. This is often the most difficult type of damages to successfully obtain because the conditions that must be met by the plaintiff before he can receive the damages can be quite numerous and difficult to meet. Each state within the U.S. tends to handle this type of damage quite differently. For instance, some states cap the amount that can be awarded to a defendant as punitive damages. If successfully awarded, however, the amount of reward from punitive damages can exceed that of general and compensatory damages. On several occasions, the defendant appeals to the large amounts of punitive damages awarded to the plaintiff, thereby resulting in a significant reduction of the number of punitive damages the higher appellate court awards the plaintiff.

In many cases, damages are awarded in monetary terms and represent the loss suffered by the plaintiff due to the wrongful conduct of the defendant. The defendant, through himself or his attorney, must prove that he suffered a loss as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct. The main reason for awarding damages is to restore the plaintiff to the position he or she was prior to the harm. In essence, damages are more remedial than punitive or preventive. The nature of the loss or injury determines the type of remedy available to the plaintiff. These remedies must be discussed with an attorney to determine the best legal action to pursue. It is important to note that some damages are not easily awarded and some states cap the amount one can receive as compensation for a loss or injury suffered.