Compensatory Damages

The word “compensate” means to “offset an error for undesirable effect.”Compensatory damages are those meant to make up for an injury. Sometimes, it seems that a payment of money is simply inadequate compensation. If it were in the power of the law to restore a lost limb or a lost loved one, that would of course be the preferred remedy. Unfortunately, the law cannot completely restore all injuries. The only remedy provided is a payment of money damages.

There are two types of compensatory damages: special damages (also call pecuniary or actual damages) and general damages. Special damages are those that can be computed and/or estimated with some kind of mathematical certainty. Special damages include past lost wages, future lost wages, past medical bills, future medical bills, property replacement and/or repair, rehabilitation costs, and substitute transportation.

General damages cannot be computed with mathematical certainty. General damages cover the “human losses. ”General damages include mental anguish, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Consortium loss is the human loss that comes from the injury to a loved one – a child, parent, or spouse. Consortium losses include the loss of companionship, society, services, and/or sexual intimacy. Frequently, even though one family member may be the only person actually injured in an accident, other family members may make a consortium loss claim.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for acts of gross negligence or intentional misconduct that cause personal injury to the plaintiff. They are not calculated by the extent of the actual injury alone, but rather are meant to punish the defendant and to discourage him or others in similar situations from allowing or causing the same sort of accident to happen in the future. In Louisiana, punitive damages are available in only limited circumstances – such as when a drunk driver causes injury or death, or when an adult sexually abuses a minor.

Court Costs and Attorney’s Fees

If a plaintiff prevails in a lawsuit that has been filed – either through settlement or trial – he or she may recover some of the expenses of having to file the lawsuit and/or take the case to court. Court costs can include filing fees, process server fees, deposition costs, court transcript costs, expert witness fees, and payments to translators. There are some instances in which a plaintiff may also be able to recover some attorney fees, but this is not common.

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Learn More about Personal Injury Lawsuits

What Should I Bring with Me to Our Initial Personal Injury Meeting?
Is Compensation from a Personal Injury Accident Taxable?
Do I Have to Give a Statement to the Adjuster?
What Happens In a Personal Injury Accident Lawsuit in Louisiana?
PDF: Steps in Louisiana Personal Injury Lawsuit
General Instructions for Injury Clients

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