After an accident, you are entitled to compensation by the party at-fault for your injuries. You could receive a settlement from the insurer of the liable party. Alternatively, you could sue the at-fault party and wait for the courts to decide on your compensation package.
But every personal injury case is different. As such, the compensation awarded may depend on several factors such as your recovery duration, medical expenses incurred from treatment, and daily life disruptions. To fully understand your rights and get maximum compensation, you need to know what types of compensation you could pursue in case of an injury.
Compensatory damages compensate you for injuries or damages from an accident. For instance, if you suffer injuries from a car accident, you can claim compensation for lost wages and medical expenses. Also, if your car was wrecked during the accident, your lawyer could sue for property damage.
Special Compensatory Damages
Car accident, slip and fall, and motorcycle accident victims are eligible for this compensation. Generally, you have to prove that you lost money due to the accident. If you lost income, paid for medical expenses, or experienced property damage, you may be eligible for special compensatory damages.
General Compensatory Damages
Also known as non-economic damages, this settlement compensates you for non-monetary loss resulting from your injury.
For example, if you suffered emotional distress from an accident, you could claim general damages. Unfortunately, such claims can be difficult to prove unless you have an experienced lawyer familiar with these cases.
Wrongful Death Damages
If a victim dies due to a defendant's actions, the deceased's family could claim compensation. These cases often include death from medical malpractice, negligence, or even murder. The family could get compensation for the deceased's medical expenses before their death and the resulting funeral costs.
If you claim compensatory damages, you'll need to prove how the injury has affected you. Thankfully, your lawyer can discuss your settlement options based on the specific details of your case and build a strong case for you.
The courts may award punitive damages for two reasons. First, damages can apply if an accident results from the willful actions or gross negligence of the at-fault party. Secondly, the courts may accept a punitive damage claim to discourage similar offenses by others.
For example, a car manufacturer who knowingly sells a car with a faulty gas tank could face punitive charges if the tank explodes. Similarly, a drunk or distracted driver could pay for punitive damages since they put others in harm's way due to their reckless actions. You can sue for punitive damages if a driver hits you with their car and causes you serious injuries.
Remember that punitive damages work to punish a defendant for their reckless actions. They often come as an addition to compensatory damages. But some states limit the amount of punitive damages a judge can award. For instance, in Oklahoma, the limit for punitive damages is $100,000. Even so, the final amount should not exceed the awarded compensatory damages.
In a punitive damage case, the court also considers the financial ability of the defendant to settle the plaintiff. For example, if the defendant's net worth is about $50 million or less, they could pay up to 4% of their total net worth in punitive damages.
These limitations ensure fairness in a punitive damage claim. They protect the integrity of the legal system and prevent meritless lawsuits.
If you suffer injuries from an accident, you should get the compensation you deserve. Remember that your case is only as strong as your legal representation. Contact Aldridge Teasdale PLLC to secure your chance at a fair settlement.