Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff of a lawsuit with enough money to cover the actual amount of the injury or loss. There are two basic types of compensatory damages, actual and general. Actual damages are intended to provide the monetary amount necessary to replace what was lost and nothing more.
Actual compensatory damages include:
- Medical and hospital bills
- Medical treatments
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Physical therapy
- Ambulance expenses
- Medicine and Prescription drugs
- Nursing home care
- Domestic services
- Medical equipment
- Lost wages or lost employment income
- Increased living expenses
- Property replacement or repair
To be awarded actual compensatory damages, the plaintiff must prove that the losses suffered equate to a monetary value that a judge or jury can determine.
An accident victim can also be compensated for general damages. General damages include estimates of loss not involving actual monetary expenditure such as:
- Mental anguish
- Future medical expenses
- Future lost wages
- Long-term physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
Compensatory damages are the most common type of damage award in medical malpractice lawsuits, usually for medical bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, and compensation for lost earnings. Some compensatory damages can be difficult to assess. For example, the value of lost wages will be much higher for a more affluent member of society versus someone poor or retired.
In addition to compensatory damages, the plaintiff may be eligible for punitive damages intended to punish the defendant’s behavior.