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The Difference Between Arizona Compensatory Damages And Punitive Damages

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on August 11, 2009

One of the concepts most misunderstood by many people in Arizona personal injury claims is the right to punitive damages for those hurt in an auto accident or other accidental injury. We know as Arizona personal injury lawyers who aid people in obtaining full compensation in many cases that the distinction between compensatory damages and punitive damages is sometimes difficult to comprehend.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

In general, compensatory damages are what one gets reimbursed for a loss that they have suffered. Compensatory damages essentially are to “make the injury victim whole.” When we represent those injured in car accidents in Arizona, as personal injury lawyers we aid these accident victims in getting full repayment of all medical bills related to the accident. When someone cannot work and loses income as a result of an auto accident in Phoenix we help them get compensated. This includes overtime and all other lost wages, and even what may have been repaid in part by Phoenix workers’ compensation claims.

Many people will have out of pocket expenses resulting from their injuries. Even payment for pain and suffering that is included in Arizona personal injury claims is considered compensatory. It essentially means that if somebody else was negligent an injured person has the right to seek compensation. Even if a person can never work again because of an accident and thus receives hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is still not considered punitive damages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party. They are not to compensate the injured party, but to teach a lesson to someone who intentionally caused injury to someone else. Punitive damages are awarded when it is shown that the defendant acted with an “evil hand and evil mind.” In this sense it is a fine, and not to compensate a person injured in an Arizona personal injury claim. It is imposed upon an insurance company, corporation, individual, or other entity that has done wrong to ensure that they will not repeat such an act.

Knowing whether punitive damages are applicable requires the knowledge of top Phoenix personal injury lawyers. It will usually take the best possible personal injury lawyer to pursue cases for punitive damages. Such cases are rare in Arizona, and it is essential that a person ensure that they have a valid claim before pursuing such a claim.

Should you or someone you know feel as if they may be entitled to punitive damages, we urge you to contact us. We will tell you honestly whether someone who has been seriously hurt due the negligence of another can go after compensatory damages claims or punitive damages claims in any personal injury case

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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer