What are Personal Injury Damages?

While there are lots of jokes about how litigious American society is, when you are the one that is harmed, it’s no laughing matter. Without the legal system, many injured people would be left holding the bag, suffering both physical and financial damage through no fault of their own. If you have been hurt due to someone else’s actions, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit in order to make that person or entity pay for the losses that you incurred. To make sure you get the most comprehensive award of damages possible for your unique situation, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Personal Injury Damages

Compensatory – to make the plaintiff whole


  1. Medical expenses
  2. Lost income
  3. Property loss
  4. Loss of consortium


  1. Pain and suffering
  2. Emotional distress

Punitive – to punish the defendant

A personal injury lawsuit must be based on a legal theory and must list the amount of damages being sought. Most personal injury actions are based on a claim of negligence, which essentially is the failure to exercise reasonable care. The dollar amount is determined by what was lost, what it would take to put you back in the position you would be in if the negligence had not occurred. Compensatory damages can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages

These damages are concrete amounts that are awarded as a direct result of financial loss. To make a plaintiff whole in most instances requires compensation for the cost of any medical care that was necessitated by the negligence. It can be for treatment already received and treatment still to come. Another common economic damage is for lost wages. This covers the negligence’s impact on current income as well as future income, which is known as “loss of earning capacity.” Any personal property that was damaged is typically reimbursed at a rate of either repair or fair market value. A fourth common type of economic damage is for loss of companionship (or consortium), which addresses situations where a severe injury has significantly altered the plaintiff’s familial relationships.

Non-economic Damages

Sort of a “catch-all” group, these damages are not based on past losses or future calculations. Rather, they are subjectively determined because there is no specific cost that can be pointed to. The biggest type of non-economic damages is for pain and suffering. Indicators include the kind of injury that occurred, the nature of medical treatment received, and the duration. Similarly, there can be an award for emotional distress, which is meant to compensate for the psychological impact of an injury. This can involve anxiety, fear, insomnia, humiliation, and depression as well as a significant reduction in the ability to enjoy life (loss of enjoyment).

Florida law also allows the awarding of punitive damages when the defendant has acted in a grossly negligent manner. These damages are intended to punish intentional or egregiously negligent wrongdoing and deter repeat behavior. Such awards are usually capped here at three times the amount of the award of compensatory damages or $500,000 per individual, whichever is higher.

The best way to successfully resolve a personal injury case is to speak with a Florida personal injury lawyer who can represent your interests and make the process go as smoothly as possible. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski LawFor 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. To learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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