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Types of Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, civil lawsuit, car accident attorneyMany people think that a personal injury lawsuit is a success when the court decides that the defendant is liable for the accident, but that is not necessarily the case. After a finding of liability, the trial moves on to the damages phase, where the court determines how much money the defendant owes the plaintiff. In many ways, this part of the trial is most important. After all, winning the case only to have the damages fall short of covering the injury suffered would not really be a win at all. Fortunately, Wisconsin law makes a wide variety of damages available to injured plaintiffs. Plaintiffs may recover for their economic harms, for non-economic harms, and even punitive damages in some cases.

Economic Harms

Economic harms are the most straightforward type of damages. They are a subset of compensatory damages. The idea behind compensatory damages is to “make the plaintiff whole” again. This means that in an ideal world the plaintiff would be so well compensated for their injuries that they would be indifferent to the fact that the injury happened at all. In order to accomplish that, the law allows people to recover for a broad amount of economic harm.

Damages for economic harms can be either direct or indirect. For instance, if a person is injured in a traffic accident, a fairly direct cost that results of that would be the medical bills. Those would be covered by damages. However, there may also be less direct economic harms. A person who was injured badly enough to miss work for a few weeks would also have lost wages, and the damages may cover those as well.

Non-Economic Harms

However, plaintiffs also suffer very real non-economic harms as a result of accidents. Consequently, the law also allows people to recover for emotional harms, commonly referred to as pain and suffering damages. Naturally these sorts of damages are much more difficult to quantify than economic harms, but if these harms were ignored, then the plaintiff could not be said to be made whole.

Punitive Damages

Wisconsin law also allows for punitive damages in certain circumstances. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not about making the plaintiff whole. They are about punishing conduct by defendants that the jury finds particularly reprehensible, such as willful conduct. While these damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff, their amount is still tied to the plaintiff's compensatory damages. In many cases, the law caps punitive damages to either $200,000 or twice the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

Damages are just one of the many benefits that a lawsuit can provide. They can also bring closure to events and ensure that careless people are held responsible for their actions. If you want to learn more about these benefits contact an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney today.

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