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When civil lawsuits are filed, the Plaintiff is almost always seeking some type of compensation for a loss he or she suffered due to the Defendant’s wrongful conduct.In order to understand how much a potential lawsuit may be worth, a Plaintiff must first understand the types of damages that are available to them through the courts.

Below is a summary of the three primary types of monetary damages a Plaintiff may receive as part of resolving a civil lawsuit.

Types of Damages

COMPENSATORY.Compensatory damages are generally the most identifiable and concrete type of damages. These include amounts for lost income, property damages, and medical care resulting from the Defendant’s misconduct. An attorney, through documents obtained during litigation, is usually able to seek a definitive amount of compensatory damages based on the injuries to a Plaintiff’s person and property. GENERAL.General damages are sought in conjunction with compensatory damages. However, these damages are typically less specific and less tangible than compensatory damages. Examples of general damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. General damages can also include future losses due to loss of earning capacity or future medical care. Factors to consider when evaluating the potential value of general damages in a case include a Plaintiff’s age, occupation, income, and the severity and permanency of the injuries.PUNITIVE.Punitive damages are meant to punish a Defendant for particularly egregious conduct. They are the most difficult damages to obtain as the burden the Plaintiff must meet to receive punitive damages is very high. Each state handles punitive damages differently; some states even cap the amount of punitive damages which can be awarded. If successfully obtained, punitive damages often times exceed the amount of compensatory or general damages awarded. However, large punitive awards are frequently appealed by the Defendant resulting in a reduction of the punitive damages by the higher appellate court.

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