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What are "Damages" in my personal injury lawsuit?


Compensatory damages are a type of monetary award provided to a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit as compensation for losses or harm suffered as a result of the defendant's actions. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff "whole" again by providing them with financial compensation to cover the costs of the harm they have suffered. Compensatory damages can include both economic damages, such as medical expenses or lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Compensatory damages are generally intended to put the plaintiff in the same financial position they would have been in if the harm had not occurred. It's also important to note that there are two types of compensatory damages, general and special. General damages are for losses that are not easily quantifiable, such as emotional distress or pain and suffering. Special damages are for losses that are easily quantifiable, such as medical expenses or lost wages.


To prove pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must present evidence that they have actually experienced pain and suffering as a result of the defendant's actions. This can include medical records, testimony from medical experts, and testimony from the plaintiff themselves or other witnesses who have observed the plaintiff's pain and suffering. Additionally, the plaintiff may also be able to present evidence of the impact the pain and suffering has had on their daily life, such as loss of income or inability to engage in previously enjoyed activities. It is important to note that the burden of proof is on the Plaintiff to prove the defendant's negligence or fault and the resulting harm suffered.


Examples of pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit can include physical pain from injuries, emotional distress, and mental anguish.

Examples of physical pain and suffering can include:

  • Chronic pain from a back injury

  • Migraines or headaches caused by a traumatic brain injury

  • Nausea and vomiting as a result of a car accident

  • Scarring or disfigurement from burns or lacerations

  • Limitations in mobility or loss of function from a broken limb or spinal cord injury

Examples of emotional distress and mental anguish can include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a car accident

  • Anxiety or depression caused by an injury

  • Loss of self-esteem or self-worth as a result of disfigurement or disability

Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the impact of the injury on the plaintiff's ability to participate in activities and hobbies that they previously enjoyed. Examples can include:

  • Inability to play sports or engage in physical activities

  • Loss of ability to travel or go on vacation

  • Inability to work or pursue a career

  • Difficulty in maintaining relationships or socializing with friends and family.

It is important to note that it is the plaintiff's burden of proof to demonstrate the pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life caused by the defendant's actions. This can be done through medical records, expert testimony, and testimony from the plaintiff or others who have observed the plaintiff's condition.


Pecuniary loss refers to a financial loss or damage that can be quantified in monetary terms. This can include things like lost wages or earnings, medical expenses, and the cost of rehabilitation or therapy. In a personal injury lawsuit, pecuniary loss is often one of the categories of damages that the plaintiff can seek compensation for, along with non-pecuniary damages such as pain and suffering. The purpose of pecuniary damages is to compensate the plaintiff for any financial losses they have incurred as a result of the defendant's actions, and to return them to the position they would have been in had the injury not occurred.


Wrongful death damages refer to the financial compensation that may be awarded to the surviving family members or beneficiaries of a person who has died as a result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity.


Some of the common types of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses

  • Loss of financial support or income that the deceased person would have provided to the surviving family members

  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person

  • Mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the death

  • Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the responsible party and deter them from committing similar actions in the future.

  • It is important to note that the laws regarding wrongful death damages vary by state, and the available damages will depend on the specific facts of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction.

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are a type of monetary award that is intended to punish the defendant and deter them and others from committing similar actions in the future. Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the plaintiff for their losses, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff, but rather to punish the defendant for their actions. Punitive damages are typically awarded in cases where the defendant's actions were particularly egregious, such as in cases of fraud, gross negligence, or malice. The amount of punitive damages awarded is usually much higher than the amount of compensatory damages awarded, and they are intended to send a message to the defendant and others that such behavior will not be tolerated. However, the awarding of punitive damages is not automatic and it's discretionary by the judge or jury, it depends on the state's laws and the circumstances of the case.



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