What are "damages"?

In a personal injury case there are usually two types of damages; compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are divided into special and general damages. Special damages are financial losses and are also called economic damages in Ohio. These include medical bills, lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses. They can be past and future if supported by the evidence. General damages, also called non-economic damages, are pain and suffering, disability, and the inability to perform your normal daily activities as before. These can also be past and future if supported by the evidence.

The standard of proof necessary to establish damages is a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not, or probable. The law does not recognize possible damages, only those damages probably caused by the incident.

Punitive damages are damages awarded to punish a defendant for especially egregious conduct, and to deter others from doing the same thing. Drinking and driving and other reckless behavior can lead to a claim for punitive damages, for example. Punitive damages must be proven by clear and convincing evidence and are governed by a specific statute in an Ohio personal injury case and are not available against certain defendants, such as political subdivisions or the State of Ohio.

Collecting on a damage award is different than receiving an award from a jury or judge in a trial. The judge or jury determine the amount of the damage award. It is up to the successful party to collect the judgment from the defendant. If the defendant has insurance, usually the insurance company will pay the judgment up to the applicable policy limit. If the defendant is uninsured, then collection proceedings need to take place to try to recover from the defendant's assets.

Categories: Personal Injury