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The damages listed above are referred to as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that have an actual dollar value to them. For example, your medical expenses for treatment for your injuries all add up to one total amount that you are entitled to receive financial compensation for. Another example is the amount of lost wages you have from being unable to work while you recover.
Non-economic damages are those losses that do not have a quantified amount to them and need to use other methods of calculation, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. Your Scottsdale AZ personal injury attorney will use a formula that considers the extent of your injuries and the total amount you have in economic damages in order to come up with a final figure for your non-economic damages.
There is a third type of damage that many victims are awarded, depending on the circumstances of their case. These are referred to as punitive damages. Punitive damages are separate from the other two types of damages, which are intended to “make the victim whole.” Punitive damages are instead meant to punish the at-fault party when their actions or behavior were especially egregious. Punitive damages are usually awarded to the victim when the at-fault party showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others or had an “evil hand and evil mind” in their actions.
Punitive damages are also meant to send a notice to “society” that the behavior of the at-fault party will not be tolerated. These are sometimes referred to as “exemplary damages” because they are meant to make an example and discourage other people from acting the same way.
Examples of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are not commonly awarded in personal injury lawsuits in Arizona. Your Scottsdale AZ personal injury lawyer can determine if you may be eligible in your case. Examples of when punitive damages are appropriate include the following:
- Vehicle accidents: While the majority of car accidents are caused by unintentional acts by the at-fault driver, there are situations where a driver may intentionally ram their vehicle into the victim’s vehicle. For example, in cases of road rage where a driver is so enraged they purposefully crash their car into another, the legal standard of “evil hand, evil mind” set by the Arizona Supreme Court would likely apply.
- Medical malpractice: If it can be shown that a medical professional intentionally caused a patient harm, there can be punitive damages awarded. This is especially common in nursing home neglect and abuse cases where the acts of the nursing home staff that causes the resident harm are often intentional.
- Assault: When a victim is assaulted by an individual and suffers injuries, that victim is not only entitled to sue their attacker for financial compensation for their losses, but they may also be awarded punitive damages. As a Scottsdale AZ personal injury attorney, Yearin Law Office can explain, this legal action is separate from any criminal charges the attacker may face.