If you have a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to compensatory damages as well as non-economic damages. Compensatory damages are those which are awarded to restore you to the economic state you were in prior to the accident. Non-economic damages, like damages for pain and suffering, are available to compensate you for the physical and mental discomfort you have endured because of the accident. In rare instances, punitive damages are available, if the defendant’s reckless or criminal conduct resulted in serious harm.
Economic damages, also known as compensatory damages, are in most cases easy to quantify. Economic damages include the medical expenses you incurred as a result of the negligent or intentional act, any property damage inflicted by the defendant, your lost wages and any lost future earning potential. Compensatory damages in wrongful death cases also include loss of support and future loss of support. For economic damages to be recoverable, you must be able to calculate them with a reasonable degree of certainty, meaning there must be a plausible factual basis to justify the award.
In Florida, non-economic damages like physical pain and suffering are also recoverable in personal injury actions. You can be awarded damages for mental suffering, which includes your emotional distress, anxiety, shock, or depression incurred as a result of your injuries. In the context of a wrongful death lawsuit, loss of companionship and loss of consortium damages are also recoverable.
The difficulty encountered with non-economic damages is how to calculate them. It is difficult to quantify the amount of emotional and physical pain a person suffered, and juries are instructed to be fair and reasonable when making this calculation.
On some rare occasions, punitive damages are also available. In Florida, a defendant can be liable for punitive damages if a jury determines there was gross negligence or intentional misconduct. The amount of punitive damages awarded is based upon the conduct of the defendant, not upon your injuries, and are intended to punish and deter the future engagement in that conduct. Punitive damages must be reasonable, and cannot be grossly excessive.