Victims of asbestos-related illnesses and their families know that money will not turn back time and prevent a person from being exposed to asbestos. However, money can provide critical support during a painful time, which is why parties often pursue financial damages.
Different types of damages
If you wish to pursue a personal injury claim after asbestos exposure, the courts could award different types of damages. These different types serve specific purposes.
Compensatory damages – Actual
The purpose of actual damages (sometimes called special damages) is to compensate parties for provable financial losses and harm. In other words, they cover losses for which victims could feasibly provide a receipt.
Calculating these damages can mean looking at:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- The cost of dealing with an illness, like altering a home or maintaining equipment
- Domestic services
- Funeral expenses
Assigning value to these losses can be a relatively straightforward process because there are typically provable expenditures.
Compensatory damages – General
General damages also reflect financial losses a victim or family members have suffered due to a party’s negligence or recklessness, but they are not as tangible as actual damages. Examples of general damages can include:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Future expenses
These can be more complicated to calculate, but they are a factor in most cases.
Courts can order punitive damages in cases where they find that there has been egregious misconduct or reprehensible behavior that contributed to a person’s injury. These damages are to specifically punish wrongdoing and dissuade others from engaging in similar misconduct.
Courts do not award these damages in every case. However, they do have the potential to be quite high. For instance, in a recent case, a jury awarded $6.5 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages to a man who developed lung disease as a result of asbestos exposure.
Seeking damages in your case
Asbestos claims can be highly complicated in terms of calculating damages, and they can seem overwhelming. However, understanding that there are different types of damages that fulfill different needs can help individuals more easily determine what they may be eligible to pursue in a legal claim.