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What Is the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages?

What Is the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages?

| Dec 10, 2013

There are many different types of damages which apply to different people, cases, and events.  Compensatory and Punitive damages are two common types of damages in injury law .  There are important differences between the two, however, and how your case could apply.

Compensatory Damages are compensations for physical damages which occurred.  If you were in an accident and you damaged your bumper, for instance, a compensatory damage could be money for the purchase and repair of the bumper.  One way to think about them is that they have a one-to-one relationship with the actual damages that happened.

Punitive Damages are compensations issued to deter someone from further actions.  Punitive damages are aimed at negative behaviors, including the breaking of laws, and are punishments given to a person in order stop them from repeating those actions.  This kind of damage is often used when the court sees the compensatory damages as inadequately compensating the plaintiff.

The most important difference between the two is that they are directed towards different people.  Compensatory damages are directed towards the plaintiff, to compensate them for the damages that occurred in an accident (for example).  Punitive damages are directed towards the person who has been deemed to be acting wrongly or is at fault in a situation.  This is especially prominent in drunk driving cases - where drunk driving is seen as quite wrong, thus punitive damages could be placed in addition to compensatory damages.

We know that the legalese of the court system is confusing and difficult to translate. The attorneys at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers are here for you to give information and help you understand the process of your specific case for the best results.  Serving various locations throughout South Carolina, including Greenville, Charleston, Columbia, Sumter and more, give us a call 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a free case evaluation .

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