How Courts Determine Damages

Web Admin - Friday, February 27, 2015

personal injury damages, Schaumburg personal injury lawyerThe ultimate goal of personal injury law is to make injured victims whole again. In theory, the law would like to allow people who suffer injuries to collect full compensation for all of the physical, economic, and emotional harms that an accident imposes on them. Of course, there are practical difficulties with doing this, such as accurately measuring emotional harms. Still, the fact that full compensation is the goal of the law is helpful for people's understanding of what damages are available to them in personal injury lawsuits.

What Damages Are Available

The law makes a wide variety of damages available to injured parties. Some of the most straightforward ones to understand are special compensatory damages. These are damages related to specific, easily calculated harms that a person suffered as a result of an accident. For instance, in a case arising out of a car accident, a person could receive special compensatory damages from the person who caused the accident to cover their medical bills and the repair bills for their car. The damages can also work based on prospective harms. For instance, if a victim can prove that their injuries prevented them from returning to work or lowered their ability to earn money, then they can also recover for those sorts of losses.

Courts can also award victims general compensatory damages. Rather than being tied to specific, calculable harms, general compensatory damages are supposed to compensate victims for the emotional harms that they suffer. Theoretically, these damages should be related to a person's pain and suffering, but as a practical matter they tend to be related to the special compensatory damages that a jury awards.

Additionally, courts have the option of awarding punitive damages. These damages are a special class of damages that are only given out rarely. Rather than the other types of damages, which focus on ensuring that victims are paid back for the harm they suffered, punitive damages exist to punish the defendant. The idea is that courts may impose these extra damages to punish defendants for particularly heinous conduct.

Comparative Negligence

Once the court calculates the full amount of the damages, there is another step. The court must determine whether the injured victim was at all responsible for the harms that they suffered. Illinois law reduces the amount of money a victim can recover by the amount of responsibility that they bear for the accident. For instance, if a pedestrian is crossing against a light and gets struck by a drunk driver, the court may find them responsible for some amount of their own injuries. Suppose the court decides that the pedestrian was responsible for 10 percent of their harm; here they can only recover 90 percent of their total damages.

Traffic accidents can lead to life changing injuries. Fortunately, the law gives people options for how to handle these situations. If you were injured in a traffic accident and want to learn more about your rights, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm represents victims in many northwest suburban towns, including Schaumburg, Inverness, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Recent Posts


Illinois red light cameras surgical mistakes controlled substance in terrorem provision loss of consortium Rolling Meadows traffic law firm Arlington Heights lawyer insurance claim Des Plaines civil attorney Buffalo Grove traffic attorney Schaumburg estate planning attorney whistleblower protections Arlington Heights car crash attorneys drugs Barrington injury attorney murder charges Rolling Meadows criminal attorney Illinois employment law firm Illinois workplace discrimination attorney car accidents Barrington real estate lawyer Palatine trusts lawyer Palatine life insurance lawyer Inverness injury lawyer mortgage Schaumburg estate attorney Illinois civil litigation lawyer product liability license suspension real estate zoning most common reasons for life insurance claim denials Buffalo Grove traffic lawyers Inverness civil lawyer Thanksgiving medical research involuntary manslaughter Illinois real estate lawyer car crash digital assets, digital fiduciary, estate planning, digital content, Long Grove estate planning lawyers license employee rights Jay Andrew Inverness estate planning lawyer revenge porn Family Medical Leave Act taxes Arlington Heights employment attorney cell phone tower data tax attorney Illinois wrongful termination lawyer Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney Rolling Meadows employment attorney car accident lawyer Rolling Meadows traffic attorney Joliet general practice lawyers cell phone Arlington Heights employment law attorneys guardianship attorney Rolling Meadows corporate lawyer institutional trustee Deer Park motorcycle accident lawyer manufacturing Illinois construction accident attorney traffic accidents no contest clauses living trust drug crime food poisoning Illinois medical malpractice lawyers Rolling Meadows boating crash lawyer Palatine injury attorney Illinois employment law attorneys overtime pay Do Not Resuscitate Buffalo Grove car accident lawyer modern family estate planning blood alcohol content personal injury, auto accident injuries, delayed injuries, serious injuries, Des Plaines personal injury attorneys Deer Park traffic lawyer Des Plaines motorcycle accident attorney home inspection lawyer underfunded trust Illinois medical malpractice attorney Rolling Meadows probate lawyer Chicago corporate attorney Inverness traffic law firm Schaumburg personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights traffic attorney Rolling Meadows medical malpractice lawyers digital evidence icy parking lots health insurance dispute Crystal Lake pedestrian accident lawyer School Visitation Rights Act Rolling Meadows employment law attorney life insurance Barrington attorney BUI employees insurance adjusters hit and run accident Des Plaines drug lawyer Barrington boating accident attorney Barrington litigation attorney brain injury Illinois real estate Arlington Heights TBI attorney Mount Prospect real estate lawyer severance agreements Illinois trucking safety commercial leasing Illinois pedestrian accident attorney medical marijuana insurance claim denials Illinois jet ski accident lawyer insurance dispute, insurance dispute lawyers, insurance claim denial, insurance claim delays, Rolling Meadows insurance dispute attorneys Illinois home inspection Buffalo Grove life insurance attorney unpaid assessment Mount Prospect wills and trusts lawyers Barrington criminal lawyer Palatine construction attorney Mount Prospect elder law attorney Deer Park DUI lawyer real estate attorneys beneficiary complications Palatine civil attorney TBI employment attorney spinal cord injuries Des Plaines real estate attorney wage theft Deer Park medical malpractice attorney pedestrian accident startup company Barrington employment law firm consent to a search Kenilworth estate planning lawyer lapse in policy Illinois employment laws Crystal Lake car accident lawyer elder law privacy medical malpractice compensation insurance disputes Arlington Heights Attorney DGAA Schaumburg life insurance attorney Crystal Lake employment law attorney insurance dispute Illinois driving without license Buffalo Grove criminal defense lawyer slip and fall DUI defense DUI attorney Arlington Heights insurance attorney pedestrian-automobile accident deadly crashes pay when paid contract pet law forming a corporation in Illinois holiday statistics Barrington business law firm Schaumburg corporate attorney irrevocable trust car crashes Buffalo Grove probate lawyer boating DUI Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers, insurance dispute Buffalo Grove injury lawyer disability benefits Illinois lawyer insurance claim dispute distracted driving accident victims traffic tickets civil rights violation Illinois workers compensation attorney workers compensation benefits insurance negligence nursing home negligence Illinois bicycle safety clemency IRA trust transfer pain and suffering Rolling Meadows car accident lawyers fiduciary rule delay Buffalo Grove corporate attorney insurance claims Illinois attorney Retaliatory Discharge employment contract Inverness real estate lawyer estate planning for college students Chicago lawyer Palatine insurance lawyer Illinois boating accident lawyer CAM Inverness accident lawyer boating accidents Schaumburg construction accident lawyer Chicago will attorney, social media platforms, Illinois estate planning lawyer, deed transfer problem employees Illinois employment law medication errors estate planning Exclusions Chicago insurance law firm Colin Gilbert Transfer on Death Instrument Buffalo Grove personal injury lawyer Rolling Meadows accident lawyer insurance denial appeals Illinois traffic ticket lawyer Arlington Heights personal injury lawyer ken apicella commercial leases Illinois workplace lawyer field sobriety test Detainer Actions Inverness insurance attorney Schaumburg car accident attorney Colin H. Gilbert new real estate form Illinois business law atorneys Crystal Lake bike accident lawyer bike accident Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Schaumburg Attorney fault based insurance advance healthcare directive Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act crossover accidents Illinois medical malpractice case probate pedestrian accidents Chicago insurance claim attorneys Rolling Meadows products liability natural gas explosion Illinois small business Illinois law Illinois estate planning Inverness probate lawyer real estate lawyer Attorney Ken Apicella corporate law Self-Directed IRA Accounts Palatine business attorney insurance attorney auto accidents liens Illinois registered agent underinsured motorist Des Plaines claims law firm estate attorney Chicago biking tips llinois Real Estate Lawyers Association Palatine workers compensation lawyer business litigation Long Grove estate planning speeding uninsured motorist Des Plaines personal injury lawyer BAC healthcare Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorneys denied insurance claims employee discrimination accidental death benefits Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Palatine punch death Arlington Heights car accident lawyer Illinois insurance attorney employee misclassification Schaumburg traffic lawyer Schaumburg insurance lawyers Illinois medical malpractice claim Super Mario Des Plaines personal injury attorney Illinois criminal defense attorney personal injury claim Arlington Heights real estate lawyer boating under the influence Chicago will attorney vacation home fines car accident compensatory time breathalyzer test Des Plaines criminal attorney contracts Palatine criminal defense lawyer Rolling Meadows tax attorney suspended license breach of contract car accident lawyers Inverness DUI lawyer Illinois rollover accident lawyers trucking accidents personal injury claims probate process employment law, meal breaks, rest breaks, hotel employees, Des Plaines employment law attorneys filing a medical malpractice claim blended families Arlington Heights tax lawyer wills landlord tenant law license reinstatement Long Grove real estate lawyer attorney fees work unions civil litigation attorney Palatine elder law attorney criminal defense FMLA probate fees POA Crystal Lake law firm Illinois Human Rights Act LLCs hiring employees marijuana Palatine corporate law attorneys Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer Crystal Lake business law attorneys Barrington life insurance lawyer real estate closing hands free device comparative negligence Rolling Meadows marijuana attorney Illinois estate planning attorney wrongful death caretaker rights Landlord Tenant Ordinance Rolling Meadows employment law attorneys real estate jet ski accidents Illinois defective products attorney Palatine drug lawyer unauthorized overtime medical malpractice, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical mistake, Deer Creek medical malpractice lawyers rollover car crashes Barrington personal injury lawyer eluding a police officer Des Plaines personal injury lawyers Long Grove real estate attorney subcontractor Home Sale Contingencies Schaumburg elder law lawyer income distribution deducation Barrington employment attorney Inverness elder law lawyer Crystal Lake insurance lawyer Crystal Lake traffic attorney senior citizens comp time Palatine employment lawyer DUI anesthesia errors Crystal Lake traffic lawyer probate claims license revocation college kids Buffalo Grove insurance claim dispute lawyers internet construction accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys, workers' compensation caregiver wills and trusts PTSD top life insurance claim denials Des Plaines drug crimes lawyer drunk driving statistics back injuries Legal Info drug possession ObamaCare Crystal Lake injury attorney expungement material misrepresentation liability claims Palatine estate planning lawyer Illinois Smoke Detector Act small business Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys Chicago car accident lawyer medical malpractice Buffalo Grove employment lawyer head on collisions Illinois tax attorney rollover accidents Illinois job attorney trusts creditors traffic laws Barrington medical malpractice lawyers Illinois personal injury attorney personal injury motorcycle accident traumatic brain injury insurance dispute attorney foreclosure estate planning, digital assets, Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Illinois digital assets, Illinois estate planning, Crystal Lake civil litigation lawyer federal crimes criminal record Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act IRA benefits life insurance claims Illinois living will traffic violations Crystal Lake employment lawyer pet bites Deer Park workers compensation lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney Whistleblower Claims Deer Park traffic accident attorney dynasty trusts swimming pools child safety probate lawyer living wills Illinois Sales Representative Act pizza emoji Illinois employment attorneys Illinois personal injury lawyers Palatine traffic accidents Illinois pet lawyer gift taxes Liquor Control Act Rolling Meadows Attorney Illinois personal injury ACA Schaumburg injury lawyer real estate contract traffic violations defense Des Plaines collections attorney Rolling Meadows life insurance claim denial attorney Illinois insurance claim attorney Buffalo Grove law firm Illinois traffic laws how to avoid common denials of life insurance claims vacation home estate planning attorney DNR operating agreements installment contracts Schaumburg medical malpractice lawyer traumatic brain injuries Des Plaines medical malpractice attorney Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyer life insurance claim denial, denial of life insurance claim Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyer Crystal Lake employment attorney Rolling Meadows business lawyer Deer Park criminal attorney Rolling Meadows estate planning attorney Illinois traffic accident lawyer sole proprietorship homestead rights Palatine employment attorney coronavirus meal breaks gift tax exemption, estate planning, estate planning strategies, Illinois estate planning, South Barrington estate planning attorneys Schaumburg truck collisions condo Des Plaines real estate lawyer bicycle dooring accidents mass shooting Illinois probate lawyer Inverness corporate attorney digital information bicycle accidents first degree murder Long Grove estate planning attorney Crystal Lake car accident attorney insurance denials condo association Des Plaines injury law firm agent drunk driving Palatine Attorney insufficient documentation Rolling Meadows drug defense attorney insurance claim denial murder defense Illinois corporate lawyer Arlington Heights accident attorney dram shop law Illinois insurance claims lawyers living trust vs will Illinois Trust Code personal injury law firm denied insurance claim unpaid overtime Schaumburg criminal attorney texting and driving Palatine probate lawyer texting while driving Chicago employment attorney insurance agents Schaumburg employment attorney Crystal Lake accident attorney Illinois Probate Act of 1975 dog bites Palatine personal injury lawyer commercial real estate Deer Park personal injury lawyer defective products employment contract, employment law, employment at-will, Deer Park employment law attorneys, contract, trust payments Schaumburg employment law attorneys denial of insurance claim Palatine employment law lawyer workplace sexual harassment Illinois estate planning law firm Illinois Transfer on Death Instrument driving spinal cord injury car collision Arlington Heights pedestrian accidents real estate attorney life insurance policy civil litigation Home Remodeling Repair Act workers compensation Illinois traffic attorneys Schaumburg personal injury lawyers Chicago estate planning lawyer Des Plaines living trust benefits Deer Park accident attorney Chicago life insurance attorney estate planning trusts Rolling Meadows insurance attorney workers comp employment law, Illinois employment laws Rolling Meadows insurance lawyer paid sick leave BAIID Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer trustee Palatine corporate attorney Chicago estate planning Illinois business lawyer loopholes elder abuse Buffalo Grove personal injury attorney unfunded trust Schaumburg criminal law attorney Policy Cancellation Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer murder landlord Crystal Lake estate planning lawyer foreclosed rental property right to work distracted driving accidents low-ball insurance settlement Illinois personal injury lawyer Illinois employee rights attorney. special needs trust Crystal Lake medical malpractice law firm Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorney Illinois employment lawyer defective products lawyer traffic crimes Illinois car accident attorney fiduciary rule digital assets Schaumburg estate planning lawyer preventing accidents employment lawyer Kenilworth estate planning attorneys Schaumburg civil litigation attorney estate tax Barrington Illinois estate planning lawyer Affordable Care Act cause-of-death exclusions Des Plaines pet law attorney Riverwoods estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyers Inverness real estate attorney Kenilworth estate planning attorney Illinois insurance disputes Illinois traffic attorney Barrington drug crime attorney bad faith insurance claims Barrington Traffic Lawyer estate planning, death tax, succession plans, business estate plans, Barrington estate planning lawyers rest breaks marijuana crimes attorney Inverness personal injury attorney Long Grove estate planning attorneys insurance claim delay Chicago trucking accident attorney traffic offenses slip and fall accidents digital media accounts, estate planning, Arlington Heights estate planning attorney, Palatine law firm residential real estate employment law privacy laws Employment Discrimination Law Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers Illinois trusts attorney Illinois insurance lawyer Schaumburg drug defense lawyer Arlington Heights Traffic Lawyer medical malpractice claims federal regulations for LLCs Palatine real estate lawyer Illinois injury lawyer Barrington employment law attorney reckless homicide Barrington criminal defense lawyer trucking accident lawyers Illinois wills and trusts attorneys changes to mortgage law DUI penalities rent to own real estate contracts independent contractor Crystal Lake tax lawyer minimum wage motorcycle accident lawyer Crystal lake insurance dispute attorney sexual images Crystal Lake personal injury attorney probate claims process South Barrington real estate attorney pedestrian injuries, pedestrian fatality Barrington civil litigation attorney jet ski DMV denial of life insurance Illinois elder law attorney Illinois workers compensation lawyer Buffalo Grove medical malpractice lawyers Fair Labor Standards Act Palatine traffic lawyer Des Plaines DUI attorney drug crimes preventable medical errors IRS Forcible Entry criminal law Illinois employment law attorney Buffalo Grove real estate attorney premises liability Illinois collections attorney underage DUI trench injuries sexual harassment Chicago traffic lawyer South Barrington real estate lawyer Illinois DUI attorney cell phone accidents fatal car accidents Rolling Meadows litigation lawyer Illinois will lawyer Illinois LLC creation IRELA Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyer car crash injuries Palatine civil litigation lawyer Illinois wills and trusts overtime violations golf accidents insurance agent negligence criminal Class A misdemeanor Illinois insurance dispute lawyers owner responsibility Arlington Heights criminal lawyer Arlington Heights medical malpractice lawyer construction accidents power of attorney for healthcare Des Plaines tax law firm Arlington Heights trucking lawyer wrongful termination Schaumburg personal injury attorney Rolling Meadows Traffic Lawyer liability estate planning lawyer investment property job lawyers Chicago attorney appealing an insurance claim Rolling Meadows real estate attorney Des Plaines accident attorney Des Plaines insurance attorney Chicago employment lawyer Illinois speeding lawyer Deer Park real estate law firm construction contracts Barrington personal injury attorney insurance disputes, Illinois insurance disputes, Illinois insurance dispute attorneys, denied insurance claims, Arlington Heights insurance dispute attorneys rumble strips Long Grove wills and trusts attorneys Barrington estate planning lawyer Deer Park employment law attorney GM ignition switches power of attorney personal injury attorney Arlington Heights estate planning attorney Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer pregnant women capital gains tax social media after death Barrington workers compensation attorney Crystal Lake pet attorney Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Mt Prospect Attorney Crystal Lake will lawyer trauma after an accident natural gas automated cars Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers healthcare claims personal injury lawyer wrongful termination, employment law, whistleblower protections, Illinois employment laws, discrimination in the workplace Barrington estate planning attorney real estate leasing Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer estate plan traffic deaths Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyers Arlington Heights injury attorney Schaumburg wrongful death attorney Schaumburg probate attorney FSLA Fourth of July personal injury accidents dealing with problem employees insurance claim dispute attorney Des Plaines Traffic Lawyer Schaumburg real estate lawyer financial advisors drug crimes lawyer Illinois mortgages life insurance lawyer Illinois