What is the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages in South Carolina?

As personal injury attorneys located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we are asked about awards the types of compensation awards for personal injury claims. Compensatory and punitive damages are two types of damages that may be awarded to someone who has been injured in an accident. In this article, we will explain the difference between compensatory and punitive damages in South Carolina.

What are Compensatory Damages in South Carolina?

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for loss of money or property due to the defendant’s actions. Compensatory damages, also known as “actual damages,” include:

  • Pain and suffering. The physical distress caused by an injury, including aches and pains, scarring, permanent or temporary limitations on activity.
  • Emotional distress. Emotional distress caused by a physical injury, physical contact, sexual harassment, libel, or slander.
  • Loss of consortium.  Is being deprived of the benefits of a normal family relationship due to an injury or death caused by the acts of another. Also referred to as “loss of companionship,” this may be the inability of a spouse to provide the same love and affection, comfort, society, or sexual relations as he or she did before the injury.
  • Defamation. Is the intentional communication, whether written or spoken, of false information that harms the reputation of a person or entity. May include any false information or groundless criticism that results in the decreased respect, regard, or confidence of the person or entity, or that provokes hostile or disparaging feelings against them. Also referred to as “loss of reputation.”
  • Disfigurement. Is the cause a permanent damage to a person’s body or appearance, such as an injury that leaves scars.
  • Loss or impairment of physical or mental capacity. Is the loss of a person’s ability to physically care for themselves, or to think clearly or make their own decisions.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. Is the loss of a person’s ability to participate in and enjoy the activities and pleasures of life as experienced prior to the injury.

What are Punitive Damages in South Carolina?

Punitive damages are not meant to give you back something you lost due to the accident. Punitive damage awards are meant to punish the defendant for conduct that was exceptionally outrageous. Punitive damage awards to designed to deter such behavior. The court looks for the following to be satisfied before awarding punitive damages:

  • Punitive damages are never awarded alone so you must first be awarded another type of actual damages, such as compensatory damages.
  • The defendant in the case must have acted in a way that is more than merely negligent or accidental; the defendant must have acted recklessly or purposefully.
  • Punitive damages are usually available only for acts that directly harm the plaintiff.

If you have been injured due to someone’s negligence, contact the Lewis Law Firm. You may be entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. We will work with you to get the compensation you deserve.