When you hear about personal injury claims, you inevitably hear about what damages the injured party received. The term “damages” refers to monetary compensation awarded to an injured party when the injury resulted from the wrongful (tortious) conduct of another party. Although there is no exact formula used to reach the dollar amount awarded, there are clearly defined categories of damages the courts look to when determining how much money to award the injured party.
The overall goal of damages is to make the injured party whole. In other words, the purpose of damages is to put the person who was injured by another person’s wrongful conduct back into the position he or she was in prior to the injury. While it is impossible to put someone in the exact ‘pre-injury condition’ with money, the amount decided on is supposed to account for the loss as best as possible. Washington courts adhere to this traditional rule of damages in these cases.
Damages are unique to every case and determined by the court on a case by case basis. Each dog bite is unique in physical damage and emotional impact. Damages are divided up into two main categories: compensatory and punitive.
The most common damages are compensatory. As the name would suggest, these damages compensate the victim’s loss. Examples of compensatory damages include medical expenses, lost wages (both current and future), and loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are less frequently awarded. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer, rather than to benefit the injured party. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the dog was trained by its owner to be violent or if the dog owner willfully and knowingly exposed others to a violent dog.
Both types of damages are determined by the unique set of circumstances of each case.
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