Personal injury and other tort lawsuits allow injured victims to hold defendants responsible for their negligence when it causes someone harm. One of the key phases of any personal injury litigation is the damages calculation, which is where the court determines what harms the plaintiff suffered, and how much compensation they are owed.
It is important to remember that the legal system in Connecticut wants to perfectly compensate the plaintiff for all of the harm that the defendant’s negligence caused. In order to do this, Connecticut law recognizes a wide variety of damages. Plaintiffs may seek “special compensatory damages” to cover specific harms such as medical bills, and they may also seek “general compensatory damages” to cover their pain and suffering. Additionally, juries in Connecticut are allowed to award “punitive damages,” extra damages designed to punish defendants.
Compensatory damages come in two forms, special and general. Special compensatory damages are the most commonly thought of type of damages. These damages apply to specific, tangible harms caused by the defendant’s negligence. For instance, if the plaintiff has medical bills as a result of the accident, then those bills can be entered into evidence, and the defendant can be forced to pay for those bills. In fact, plaintiffs may even receive compensation for future medical treatments, such as rehabilitation or physical therapy.
Special compensatory damages also cover lost wages and other purely economic harms. If the plaintiff’s injuries caused them to miss work, then the defendant may be required to compensate them for their lost payments. Additionally, plaintiffs may also seek lost earnings going forward, if their injuries permanently impaired their ability to earn a living.
Connecticut law also allows injured plaintiffs to pursue general compensatory damages. Rather than being tied to some tangible harm, these damages compensate more ephemeral losses on behalf of the plaintiff. Colloquially, these damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages since they allow the plaintiff to recover for the emotional toll of their injury.
Courts in Connecticut are also empowered to award damages beyond those that would compensate plaintiffs for their losses. These damages are known as punitive damages, and courts use them to punish defendants whose conduct has been particularly reprehensible, or as the Connecticut jury instructions put it, conduct that outrages based on either reckless indifference to or wanton violations of people’s rights. The idea behind these damages is that the extra punishment will deter future actors from engaging in the same behavior.
It is important to understand, however, that a successful lawsuit can only be pursued if the plaintiff files suit within Connecticut’s two-year statute of limitations. This is much shorter than the statute of limitations in many other states, and, as such, injured parties should act quickly in the direct aftermath of an accident.
The law surrounding personal injury damages in Connecticut is complex, but it can provide for expansive recovery. If you have been injured in an accident, contact a Hartford, Connecticut personal injury lawyer for information about the compensation to which you may be entitled. Call Woolf Law Group, LLC at [[phone1]] to schedule a consultation.