Personal injury lawsuits strive to obtain financial compensation, also called damages, for the plaintiff in order to make up for the injuries and other effects he suffered from his accident. Three types of damages are available: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages compensate for costs that can be objectively expressed in financial terms. This can include medical bills, lost wages after the accident, or the cost of hiring someone to help around the house. In addition to what you have already paid, you can also receive compensation for future costs. If you will require continuing medical treatment, you can receive damages to pay for it. If you will be unable to work, or unable to work as much as you could before your injury, you can also receive damages to compensate for this. Plaintiffs will usually receive full compensation for these losses, even if that requires very large awards.
Non-economic damages compensate for subjective losses that cannot be verified in monetary terms, like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, loss of companionship, and other factors that affect quality of life. In some states, awards for non-economic losses are capped, usually at less than one million dollars, in an effort to prevent plaintiffs from becoming wealthy from these awards. This idea of tort reform is controversial, and not all states have adopted it.
As opposed to economic and non-economic losses, which are meant to compensate a plaintiff for his losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious negligence. These damages are not awarded in every case, but they are common in claims against corporations or institutions, where they are intended to act as a deterrent against companies acting similarly in the future.
If you’ve been injured or been in an accident, you deserve compensation for all the ways your life has been altered.