Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages: What’s the Difference?

Compensatory vs Punitive Damages

Damages are awarded to compensate a victim for the defendant’s conduct in a personal injury claim.
These damages can cover:

Understanding the difference between compensatory and punitive damages is essential to legal proceedings. Personal injury attorneys are available at The Jones Firm to help you navigate your lawsuit.

Compensatory and Punitive Damages: The Basics

The main difference between compensatory and punitive damages lies in why they are awarded.
One awards the victim for loss, and the other punishes a person’s negligence. Both types of compensation are awarded in some circumstances.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate a victim for actual loss or injury. Victims receive compensatory damages to be “made whole” or return to their pre-injury condition. If the injury results in permanent disability, the victim is awarded compensation based on their life expectancy and earning capacity.
There are two types of compensatory damages: actual and general damages.
Actual damages are monetary damages that can be proven, often with a receipt or invoice of losses. These damages can include lost wages and medical expenses.
On the other hand, general damages do not have an easily identifiable monetary value attached to them. These damages can be more challenging to prove and include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and future expenses.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant. The at-fault party is ordered to pay punitive damages to prevent others from being harmed by the same or similar actions and deter others from committing similar acts. Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.21(C) outlines the circumstances in which punitive damages are recoverable. The law states that punitive damages are not recoverable unless the “actions or omissions of that defendant demonstrate malice or aggravated or aggregious fraud…”
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances where the defendant’s conduct rises beyond ordinary negligence. Typically, these damages arise where the defendant acted intentionally or where the facts are particularly egregious. For example, Drunk driving accidents may result in punitive damages being awarded to the victim. Particularly if the level of intoxication was high and there was a past history of drunk driving.

Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Both compensatory and punitive damages can be awarded to the injured party in court in personal injury cases.
If you were wronged by a negligent party and suffered loss, you have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages in Ohio. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, a dog bite incident, or medical malpractice—or have suffered another type of injury— The Jones Firm is here with a free consultation to help compensate for your injuries, pain and suffering, and medical bills.

Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages FAQs

There are many questions surrounding the types of damages in personal injury claims. Compensatory and punitive damages are awarded when defendants are found negligent in personal injury cases. If you or someone you know has faced negligent behavior, be sure to get the legal help you need by reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney at The Jones Firm.

What is the main goal of punitive damages?
Punitive damage is a type of punishment awarded at the court’s discretion during the legal process if the defendant’s actions are found to be grossly negligent or done with intentional harm.
The main goal of this type of damage is to punish the defendant’s conduct.

What types of cases are awarded compensatory and punitive damages?
Compensatory and punitive damages are awarded in personal injury cases to injury victims.
These lawsuits can cover:

  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Medical malpractices
  • Nursing home abuses
  • Work injuries
  • Wrongful death cases

Contact The Jones Firm today to schedule a free case review.

Author Bio

Geoff Jones is the CEO and Managing Partner of The Jones Firm, a personal injury law firm in Columbus, Ohio. With years of experience in personal injury law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls, wrongful death, and other cases.

Geoff received his Juris Doctor from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and is a member of the Columbus Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being selected to Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2022-2023.

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