Damages? What Does That Mean?

person on the ground after falling off a bike

Justice is something that one always alludes to when filing suit or visiting an attorney’s office. Yet in the realm of civil court, the question is not only of liability or fault, but this must be paired with damages.

Damages generally may be compensatory and/or punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate an individual for an injury received due to the negligence or recklessness of another party. Economic damages are those that can be seen such as medical care, loss of earnings, property damage, and other monetary losses that can be accounted for. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, results from pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, physical impairment, or any theory of damages related to the injury received. S.C. Code of Law 15-32-210.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are solely for the purpose of punishing the defendant. This may only be awarded if compensatory damages have been received. When determining if punitive damages are to be awarded, some factors considered are: defendant’s degree of culpability; severity of harm caused by defendant; plaintiff’s own conduct in contributing to harm; and defendant’s ability to pay. S.C. Code of Law 15-32-530.

It is important to note that liability of a defendant is not the only factor to consider, but also whether there are damages, and if so what are those damages, and if those damages are able to be collected. This is where the insurance company will come in to play, often times. Although we imagine that people will play fair, it is important to realize that this may not always be the case. Thus, it is important to consult with an attorney if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, negligence or an accident at work to ensure that your rights are protected as prescribed by law.

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