The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to recover money damages from a person who has inflicted harm on another. There are two types of damages that might be recovered in a given case: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages — sometimes called actual damages — are designed to compensate the injured person for the losses they incurred. There are two categories of compensatory damages: special and general.
Special damages, also called economic damages, have a firm, calculable value. They often have a dollar amount attached to them that is supported by documentation. Special damages include medical bills, lost income, property damage and out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the accident.
General damages, also called noneconomic damages, are losses that are more subjective and difficult to calculate. They include pain and suffering, anxiety, disfigurement, loss of consortium, emotional distress and other hard-to-value harms. There are two common methods of calculating general damages:
Multiplier method — The total amount of special damages is multiplied by a number, usually one through five. The multiplier number is selected based on the severity of the injuries and the disruption to the victim’s life.
Per diem method — A dollar value is placed on each day the victim lives with the pain and suffering. That value is multiplied by the number of days the victim is likely to need to make a full recovery.
Punitive damages, by contrast, are meant not to compensate the victim but to punish the at-fault party. These damages are only involved in cases where the at-fault party was worse than negligent. Connecticut allows punitive damages when the evidence shows that the at-fault party acted with a reckless indifference toward the rights of others or with an intentional or wanton violation of those rights.
For example, punitive damages might be awarded in a case where drunk driving was the cause of the accident in which the plaintiff was injured. By awarding punitive damages, the court intends to discourage the defendant from driving while intoxicated again and to send a message to the larger community that the consequences for driving drunk are extremely serious.
Generally, Connecticut courts limit punitive damages to the amount of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs. However, there are statutes that permit awarding higher punitive damages in specified types of cases and situations. Sometimes these awards can come to double or triple the plaintiff’s actual damages.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. in Hamden and East Haven, Connecticut, our attorneys seek full and fair compensation for clients injured in auto accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice incidents and many other scenarios. If you have been injured and would like to speak with an attorney, please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online for a consultation.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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