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


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