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


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