If you suffer a personal injury due to the irresponsible actions of another, you probably are immediately wondering what your legal options are. The law allows for victims of accidental or intentional injury to receive compensation for the wrongdoing. It is possible to receive compensation to make up for nearly anything. To make it easier to understand, types of compensation can be broken down into two categories:

  • Compensatory
  • Punitive

Learn what damages you can receive compensation for so you can be made whole again after your injury.


Compensatory damages reimburse victims for whatever losses they may have suffered. The whole point of compensatory damages is to place a monetary value on whatever was lost, so the defendant can pay that amount to the victim. So, for instance, if you have to pay a $1,000 medical bill to recover from your injury, the defendant would pay that same amount in compensatory damages. This type of compensation can be broken down into two subcategories: Special and general compensatory damages. The former is for things that have a specific monetary value, such as medical bills, lost wages due to missed work, loss of future wages due to permanent disability, household expenses, and cost of altered plans. In the event of death, special compensatory damages may also include funeral costs, and loss of financial contribution. General compensatory damages, on the other hand, assign a monetary value to non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or emotional trauma. Compensatory damages of some kind are a part of nearly every personal injury case.


As opposed to compensatory damages, which compensate the victim, punitive damages are assigned only to punish the defendant. It is relatively rare for punitive damages to be assigned in a personal injury case. The only time this usually happens is when the injury was caused intentionally. If the case determines that the defendant was acting maliciously, then the court will usually add some form of punishment in the form of punitive costs. This means punitive damages are most common in assault, battery, sexual assault, or fraud cases. Sometimes, punitive damages are assigned to defendants in cases involving defective products, especially if there is proof that the products were distributed with knowledge of their shortcomings.

Remember, it is always best to contact a personal injury lawyer before filing a lawsuit. A legal professional can ensure that you receive compensation for every area of your life that was damaged, and avoid any damages being missed.