A Denver personal injury attorney explains the difference between compensatory and punitive damages for personal injury awards.

A Denver personal injury attorney explains the difference between compensatory and punitive damages for personal injury awards.

When the victims of negligence succeed in recovering awards for their injuries and losses, this compensation can include various types of damages, depending on the nature of the negligence, the injuries sustained and other factors.

In general, however, personal injury settlements can comprise two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. And understanding the difference between the two can be important setting realistic expectations when pursuing a personal injury case.

Compensatory Damages

These are the damages that are awarded to injured people as a way to try to restore them, compensating them for the injuries and losses they suffered as a result of some negligence. Although the nature and amounts of compensatory damages differ from case to case, generally, these awards can include damages for:

  • Medical bills, including past medical care and future treatment needs
  • Property damage, which may include compensation to fix damaged vehicles (for car accident cases) or to repair homes (when defective equipment causes home fires), for example
  • Lost income, including past wages lost due to the injury and future income that will not be earned because the injury prevents the victim from being able to work
  • Loss of consortium, which refers to compensation awarded for impacts to victims’ quality of life (as a result of the injuries sustained)
  • Emotional suffering.

Punitive Damages

These damages are not intended to compensate victims but are, instead, meant to punish the negligent party. When it comes to punitive damages, here’s what you should know:

  • They are not available in all cases – Instead, they are typically reserved for cases in which a defendant has a history of negligence or in which the negligence may have harmed a number of people (just to name a few examples).
  • The court has the discretion to award these damages – In other words, when punitive damages should be awarded, as well as how much should be awarded, is a decision that is made by the court.
  • The potential for punitive damages can be important leverage for injured people – This is because defendants will usually be more willing to work out a pre-trial settlement if or when they may face the threat of having to pay punitive damages if the case goes to trial.

Have More Questions? Contact a Denver Personal Injury Attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C.

If you have been injured by the negligence of another party, you can turn to a Denver personal injury attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. for experienced help advocating your rights and pursuing justice.

To find out more about how we can help you, call us at (303) 795-5900 or email our firm using the contact form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you will receive clear, honest legal advice about your case, your rights and your best options for moving forward.

From our offices conveniently located in Denver, Greenwood Village, and Steamboat Springs, our lawyers provide the highest quality legal services to injured people throughout the Denver metro area, Arapahoe County, Routt County and the state of Colorado.