What Are Damages?

What Are “Damages”?

“Damages” is one of the most commonly misused, and misunderstood, legal terms, as most personal injury attorneys will attest. While it is true that one must prove damage to obtain damages, the two terms are not synonymous. One does not suffer “damages”; one collects them after reaching a settlement or winning a personal injury case. This is because “damages” refers not to an injury or its effects, but rather to the compensation the injured party obtains according to the specific losses and expenses incurred due to the injury.

Compensatory Damages

Most damages awarded in personal injury cases are compensatory damages; that is, compensation for demonstrable losses and expenses stemming from an injury. Actual compensatory damages are awarded to cover expenses and monetary losses absorbed by the injured party, including medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation expenses, and, in wrongful death cases, funereal costs. General compensatory damages are awarded to cover pain and suffering and other more abstract consequences of injury, including mental anguish, lost future wages, and, in wrongful death cases, loss of support and consortium.

Entitled Damages

One of the most important functions of personal injury lawyers is to identify the damages to which an injured party is entitled. This is because the injured party cannot return to the courts for further compensation related to an injury once a jury award or settlement has been obtained. For example, if a person was paralyzed due to a surgical error and settled his or her medical malpractice case out of court, he or she could not decide five years later that the compensation was insufficient to cover the expenses related to the injury. A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to project, with reasonable accuracy, future losses and expenses in addition to whatever current losses and expenses the injured party has incurred.


It should be noted that most damages in personal injury cases are obtained through settlements; however, it is important always to seek the services of an attorney with extensive in-court experience. The best attorneys are those who work toward a fair settlement but are unafraid to pursue a case to trial if it is in the best interest of their clients. Learn more about how Proner & Proner can help you.


Last year we recovered over $15 million for our clients. With that money, our clients are able to pay their medical bills. They are getting their lives back on track after serious injuries and they are holding to account the people who wrongfully injured them.


$1,100,000.00 - Female, 35: Motorcyclist hit by oncoming traffic

Our client was riding on the back of a motorcycle going south when the defendant heading north made a left hand turn in front of the client, causing the accident.
Injuries: Fractured left leg which required surgery

We understand motorcyclists because we ride


$5,100,000.00 - Female, 43: Cyclist hit by truck

Our client was riding her bicycle when a truck was turning and came up onto the sidewalk. Our client went to back up and the truck struck her.
Injuries: Catastrophic injuries to entire right side of body below the waist resulting in amputation of the right leg and hind quarter; bladder rupture; multiple rib and spinal fractures.

$3,500,000.00 - Female, 33: Serious personal injury

Our client fell down the stairs and was knocked unconscious at a New York City
subway station.
Injuries: Fractured skull, subsequent seizure disorder.

$4,300,000.00 - Male, 63: Pedestrian hit by bus

Our client was crossing a street when a bus hit a car and the car spun and hit him.
Injuries: Traumatic brain injury; fractured shoulder.

$750,000.00 - Male, 35: Workers' compensation

Our client was changing a pump strainer on a hot air furnace when he stepped on a board and fell through the ceiling.
Injuries: Herniated disc which required surgery.