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What Damages Are Available In Your Case



If you have sued someone in a civil lawsuit, it is not enough to prove that the other party was negligent or acted wrongly, or that you did the right thing. This alone would result in a verdict for the plaintiff but no award of damages. The main purpose in starting a lawsuit is to recover damages. Damages are the amount of money a defendant is required to pay for breaching a duty or violating someone's right. There are two types of damages, compensatory and punitive. Punitive damages will be discussed in another article.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are meant to "compensate" a plaintiff for his or her injuries and losses. They are designed to put the plaintiff in the financial position he or she had before the accident. The damages available depend on the type of injury and, to some extent, the personal circumstances of the plaintiff. Take, for example, a suit resulting from a car accident. If the defendant is shown to be solely at fault, the plaintiff would recover the cost of repairing his or her vehicle. If the plaintiff was injured, any medical expenses would be recovered. If the plaintiff lost time from work, any wages that were lost would be recoverable.

Additional Damages

More serious injuries allow for additional damage recoveries. If accident-related injuries prevent the plaintiff from engaging in sexual relations with his or her spouse, a jury can award damages for this. If injuries prevent the plaintiff from returning to his or her job and force him or her to take a lower-paying job, the difference in wages for the rest of the plaintiff's work life can be awarded as damages. If the plaintiff cannot return to work at all, lost wages for his or her entire expected work life can be awarded. Finally, damages for the pain and suffering endured by a plaintiff can be awarded in a civil lawsuit.

The costs a plaintiff incurs in bringing a lawsuit to recover damages are not recoverable. Attorney's fees in the United States are not recoverable by the successful plaintiff or defendant in a civil suit. Interestingly they are recoverable in most other countries. Other expenses a plaintiff may incur in attending trial, such as travel expenses, lost time from work, food, and lodging, are generally not recoverable as damages.

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