The Different Types of Damages Available Under Florida Personal Injury Law
One of the necessary elements in any negligence action is to prove actual damages. If proven, then one is eligible for recovering compensatory damages and, in some cases, punitive damages. However, it is important to remember that any award of damages could be subsequently limited under Florida's comparative negligence statute.
Compensatory damages are meant to indemnify one for injuries to either their person or their property (or a combination of both). Thus compensatory damages are often describes as being a monetary award meant to put the injured party back to the place they were prior to the injury.
Compensatory damages can be broken down into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, on the one hand, provide compensation and reimbursement for such things as medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning potential and other purely economic consequences of an injury. In other words, if one can put a price tag (or estimate) on the amount lost, it is an economic damage.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, tend to cover those losses that are difficult to put a number on. Common examples include pain and suffering and mental distress. To help guide a court in awarding non-economic damages, Florida statute 768.118 provides an overview.
Both economic and non-economic compensatory damages are meant not only to compensate one for their past injuries, but also all present and future injuries caused by the initial injury. For example, a professional football player who sustains a leg injury in a car accident that sidelines him for life will likely receive past, present and future damages.
Florida law also allows for the awarding of punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish and deter especially dangerous conduct. Generally punitive damages are limited to wanton, willful, reckless and malicious acts. Florida law also limits punitive damages, typically to three times the amount of the compensatory damages that were awarded.
One point that must be noted is that, under Florida law, the injured party has a duty to mitigate their damages. This means if one waits to seek medical attention that, if sought immediately, could have eliminated or reduced the amount of damages, the injured could be barred from receiving any compensation. This is why it is essential that, following an injury, you take two immediate steps: 1) seek medical attention and 2) contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney such as the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587).
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