The objective of compensatory damages is to make the injured party whole as possible with a monetary figure and in hopes to restore the injured party to the position he or she would have been in had the wrong not been committed. If the wrongdoer’s liability is established, an injured person is entitled to compensatory damages as a matter of right.
In addition to compensatory damages, there punitive damages, which is designed to punish the behavior of the wrongdoer, as opposed to merely compensate the injury party. Punitive damages are only awarded if the tortious conduct of the wrongdoer reflects fraud, actual malice, or deliberate violence or oppression, or is so willful or grossly negligent as to indicate wanton disregard of the rights of others, and must be motioned to the court before a trier of fact (jury) can even consider punitive as an award.
In sum, in a personal injury action, the plaintiff may recover compensation for the actual loss or injury, as well as for damages that are the natural, proximate, probable, or direct consequence of the defendant’s wrongful act. If the defendant was willfully or grossly negligent, then punitive damages could be adduced against the defendant in favor of the plaintiff.