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Personal injury damages can be divided into two broad categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. If you were injured due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation.

A WV personal injury lawyer at Colombo Law Personal Injury Lawyers will strive to recover all of the damages you are due. Generally speaking, compensatory damages make up the majority—if not all—of your claim.

Our firm is dedicated to maximizing the personal injury damages in your case, whether through settlement negotiations or at trial. Call 304-599-4229 today for a FREE case review.

What Is the Purpose of Compensatory Damages?

The West Virginia legislature defines compensatory damages as:

…damages awarded to compensate a plaintiff for economic and noneconomic loss.

West Virginia Code § 55-7-13b

In other words, if you are in an accident due to the negligence of another and it results in losses, you can pursue compensation for those losses.

Compensatory damages are an important protection for individuals who have been injured through no fault of their own. Accidents can lead to expensive medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, and other losses that accident victims should not be responsible for managing on their own. When someone else acts negligently and causes injury to someone else, they should be held responsible for the consequences of their actions.

The ultimate purpose of compensatory damages is to provide relief for the losses—both economic and noneconomic—the plaintiff has endured as a result of the injury.

What Are Some Examples of Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages come in two primary forms. 

  • Economic damages can include everything from lost wages and medical bills to home modifications. For example, if you are no longer able to climb stairs because of your injury and need to install a stair lift, the cost of the stair lift could be included in your economic damages. Essentially, anything that causes you to lose money—or not make as much as you otherwise would have—could be considered economic damages.
  • Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring and disfigurement, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Ultimately, any way that an injury affects someone financially, physically, or psychologically may be classified as compensatory damages.

How Are Compensatory Damages Calculated in a Personal Injury Case?

When it comes to straightforward damages like medical bills and lost wages, calculations generally involve simple math. However, some damages are not so straightforward to calculate.

For instance, in some personal injury cases, injured victims will face years of medical attention and rehabilitation. How can you know, exactly, how much this will cost? In truth, you cannot know for certain, meaning you will need to consult with medical professionals and/or historical data to come to a reasonable amount.

Even more complicated are noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. How can you put a price on the pain you feel during an accident, much less the ongoing suffering you experience? Some accident victims are forced to endure PTSD, disfigurement, loss of companionship, and other losses that you cannot easily put a dollar amount on. 

There are, however, a couple of ways to calculate these damages. Personal injury lawyers generally rely on expert witness testimony to assess the value of the losses and prepare a strong case on the client’s behalf.

What’s the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages?

Beyond compensatory damages (economic and noneconomic), there is another type of personal injury damages that sometimes applies in personal injury claims: punitive damages.

Unlike economic and noneconomic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate accident victims for the losses they have suffered. Instead, they are intended to punish and deter the defendant due to the severity of their actions (or inactions). As such, they can serve as a deterrent to others from doing the same.

According to the West Virginia Legislature, punitive damages may only be awarded in the following circumstance:

“…a plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the damages suffered were the result of the conduct that was carried out by the defendant with actual malice toward the plaintiff or a conscious, reckless and outrageous indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.”

West Virginia Code § 55-7-29

Maximizing Your Personal Injury Damages

One of the most important parts of pursuing compensation is properly calculating the full amount of your compensatory damages. You will likely be up against an insurance company that may try to convince you that your claim is not worth as much as you think. By itemizing your damages and carefully calculating them, you can ensure that your rights are protected and you will not be facing additional short- or long-term difficulties due to the negligence of the responsible party.

At Colombo Law Personal Injury Lawyers, we are here to help. We know how difficult it can be to navigate the intricacies of a personal injury claim, especially when you are facing physical injuries and psychological trauma as a result of the accident.

Our mission is to use our experience to fight for the rights of injured victims while holding defendants accountable for their negligence. We fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

The personal injury lawyers at Colombo Law represent clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia. Contact us for FREE today.

by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on