Compensatory Damages Pay For Damages Created, Punitive Damages Penalize the At-Fault Party
Video Transcribed: What is the difference between compensatory and punitive damages in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa lawyer, James Wirth, and that’s the question that we have, compensatory damages versus punitive damages.
Okay. So if someone has wronged you, you’ve been damaged, we’ve got to put a monetary value on that damage. If you’ve been injured, then there may be a loss of work. You may have lost wages. You may have medical bills. You may have future medical bills, and future lost wages.
If there’s a breach of contract, maybe they failed to pay on what there’s owed on a contract, then there’s a monetary amount they failed to pay. Those things put you in the position that you should have been in, but for that wrong, that was committed against you.
Whether it’s a breach of contract or a tort, that is what is compensatory damage is it compensates you for what you’re out. It indemnifies you. That’s compensatory damages. It compensates you.
However, there are other damages, punitive damages, or exemplary damages. Ultimately, that is not to put you in the position that you were in. The purpose of that is to punish the other side, and it’s only available for more egregious conduct. It’s not always available.
But when it’s available, it is what is a sufficient amount to force the other side to pay to prevent them from doing this to other people? So it’s not about how much you’re owed. It’s about how much is it going to take to ding them, to get them to learn not to behave this way?
Because we can assume or the law sometimes assumes that if they did this once and they got caught for it, there may have been other times they did it, and they didn’t get caught. So it’s not just enough to compensate this one party because they may still have gotten away with it other times.
They may still be ahead if they get caught every so many time. We need punitive damages so that it’s painful enough for them that this part will make up for the ones they may have gotten away with, and they’ll definitely not want to engage in that conduct again. So that’s punitive damages. It’s punishment.
If you’ve got any further questions or any questions about a particular circumstance, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about that confidentially. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.