What Are Compensatory Damages?

What Are Compensatory Damages?

July 13, 2022Workers' Compensation

If you are injured in a preventable accident, you have the right to seek damages from the party responsible. Damages is the legal term referring to the compensation that victims can recover in a settlement or be awarded for their losses. One type of compensation that is always sought is compensatory damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded for any losses related to an injury caused by another party’s negligence. Their intent is to make a victim “whole,” or as close as possible to the position they were in before the injury. Under compensatory damages, there are two subcategories:

Economic Damages

Compensation for the actual financial losses caused by your injury that must be proven with documentation. Some examples include:

  • Medical bills: emergency room visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, outpatient procedures, prescription medications, ongoing treatment, home modifications, in-home medical care, nursing home or rehabilitation costs, etc.
  • Anticipated future medical expenses.
  • Property repair or replacement.
  • Transportation.
  • Lost wages from missed work.
  • Anticipated future lost wages.
  • Diminished earning capacity if you are unable to earn the same level of income as before the accident.
  • Legal fees.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate a victim for intangible harm. These are losses that do not reflect a monetary amount and are subjective, making them more challenging to prove. Types of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of opportunity.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Loss of opportunity.
  • Physical impairment (e.g., disability, loss of a limb).
  • Disfigurement.
  • Unjust hardship.

Compensatory damages are the most common type of compensation awarded in personal injury cases. The other type of damages, called punitive damages, are rarely awarded. The court will only award punitive damages in cases involving a defendant (at-fault party) who acted with an extreme disregard for the safety of others. This compensation is intended to punish the defendant and deter others from similar harmful behavior.

Does Missouri Have a Cap on Compensatory Damages?

Missouri does not limit the amount of compensatory damages that can be awarded to a personal injury victim unless the case is based on medical negligence. In medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages cannot exceed $400,000. If the case involved a catastrophic injury or wrongful death, then non-economic damages cannot exceed $700,000.

The state also places a deadline on filing a personal injury claim, known as the statute of limitations. By law, victims have five years from the date of the injury to file suit. If you miss the deadline, your case will likely be dismissed, and you will lose your right to compensation. In most medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is two years.

Pure Comparative Negligence in Missouri

Under Missouri’s pure comparative negligence law, a personal injury victim’s percentage of fault will reduce their settlement or award. For example, if you are awarded $500,000 but found 20 percent to blame, you will only receive 80% of the award, or $400,000. On the other hand, if you are found 80% responsible, you will receive 20% or $100,000, etc. As a result, whether a victim is partially responsible for the accident that led to their injury can significantly impact the amount of compensatory damages recovered.

Call us today to speak with a St. Louis personal injury lawyer.

Free Consulation
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Recent Articles