Understanding the Difference Between Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages.

If your loved one is hurt or killed through someone’s negligence it is normal and natural to be extremely angry. However, you should not allow that anger to cloud your judgment when it comes to protecting your rights.

Understanding what kinds of compensation may be available for a given injury is an important part of protecting your rights. Depending on the nature of an accident, an injury victim may be eligible for both compensatory and punitive damages.  Punitive damages are, however, normally much harder to get because it requires that the person who caused the accident to admit they they did more than just make a mistake.


Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse the actual costs associated with an accident. Common expenses and other allowable damages include:


  • Burial costs or cremation
  • Hospital or other medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering


Some compensatory damages are objective, such as medical expenses, lost wages (past and future) and cost of a burial. Others, such as anguish or pain and suffering, are subjective and are up to the a jury to make the determination as to how much compensation you deserve.  This is not always easy to estimate what a jury will do.  Insurance companies will sometime use a multiplier of your medical bills to determine your pain and suffering.  This is not always an effective way to do it because sometimes medical bills are low, but you could be in a lot of pain.  An injured victim’s credibility is very important to proving pain and suffering because only you can tell a jury how bad you hurt.  It is very important to be truthful throughout the process about your pain levels.

Punitive Damages

These awards are designed to force responsible parties not to repeat the actions that caused an injury or death and to deter the general public from grossly irresponsible behavior. They are most often awarded in cases of wrongful death or serious injury.

The following are some reasons why punitive damages might be awarded:


  • A drug company’s medications might kill people even if they take them as directed.
  • A drunk driver might have caused your injuries or a loved ones death.
  • A trucker might be driving while fatigued even though there are rules against it.


You will need an experienced lawyer to ever get an insurance company to agree that you are entitled to punitive damages.

Please call the Law Office of John B. Jackson at (770) 836-8327 or contact John at [email protected] to discuss your personal injury case.