Legal liability is only half the battle in a lawsuit. Very few people file lawsuits simply to prove that someone committed a wrong. Most lawsuits are filed because the person suing is seeking legal compensation, also known as damages. Legal liability must exist before any legal compensation can be awarded in any lawsuit. What does that compensation actually consist of? Legal remedies are available in each successful lawsuit, but the type of remedy available, whether damages (legal compensation) or equitable (injunctive relief), depends on the type of lawsuit filed.
At the Law Offices of Yuriy Moshes, we assist clients in New York and New Jersey with a wide variety of matters such as Plaintiff’s personal injury claims, employment law claims, and real estate claims. While some types of cases have very similar remedies, these three areas are unique in that their remedies are mostly distinctive. The remedies available depend on the type of case filed.
Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
Plaintiffs personal injury claims
are a subset of the broader area of law known as tort law
. Tort cases are known for monetary damages awards that are designed to help make a victim whole after an accident
. The vast majority of personal injury damages are known as compensatory damages. This is because those damages are meant to compensate victims for any injury that has occurred. Compensatory damages are split into several different types of categories including:
- Payment of past medical bills;
- Payment for future medical bills;
- Lost income and lost wages due to missing work;
- Pain and suffering damages;
- Damage to property.
In certain cases, emotional damages may be available if the victim has suffered a genuine emotional shock resulting in psychological damages. Additionally, another category of damages known as punitive damages may also be available. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate the victim, but are instead designed to punish the defendant that caused the injury and help deter future egregious wrongdoing. Unlike compensatory damages which are limited to an extent by the injuries that the victim actually suffered, punitive damages awards can be very large. For this reason, punitive damages are rarely awarded by courts, and when they are awarded, it is in very extreme circumstances where a defendant was either grossly negligent or intentionally caused an injury.
Compensation in Employment Law Cases
Similar to compensation in personal injury cases, compensation in employment law cases
is designed to compensate the victim and make him or her whole after suffering an adverse employment action. Unlike personal injury cases, however, no one is actually physically injured in employment cases. While an employee might have lost his or her job or had wages stolen, there are no medical bills and no injuries due to physical injury, so the categories of compensation are different. In employment law cases, the following types of damages are generally awarded:
- Back pay;
- Front pay;
- Emotional and pain and suffering damages;
- Attorneys’ fees and costs (this aspect of employment law cases is what makes them economically viable for employment law attorneys to take most employment law cases).
Employment law cases can also result in other types of legal relief such as injunctions, which require an employer to perform some action or specific performance, which requires an employer to abide by the terms of a contract. Finally, punitive damages are also available in employment law cases where the employer acted knowing that he or she was taking an illegal action.
Remedies Available in Certain Real Estate Disputes
The universe of real estate law
cases is vast, and therefore, it is difficult to generalize types of compensation that are available. Therefore, this article will discuss two types of cases most relevant to consumers in the real estate market: home sales
contract cases and foreclosure cases. In real estate contract cases, two categories of damages are generally available: damages and specific performance. In lawsuits for damages, the party bringing the lawsuit will claim that he or she suffered an economic loss resulting from the breach of a contract. In general, the damages available will be the amount of financial gain that the plaintiff expected to earn due to the performance of the contract. Typically, New York contract of sales will limit damages to the amount of the down payment.
Specific performance, on the other hand, simply means that the plaintiff is asking the court to enforce a pre-existing contract. In real estate cases, courts are most likely to grant specific performance due to the unique nature of each plot of land. In other words, if you sign a home sale contract and one of the parties to that contract tries to back out, the other party can generally sue for specific performance to get the home sale contract back on track.
Unlike contract claims, in a foreclosure case, the homeowner is on the defensive. In most cases, the homeowner will be sued for not paying a mortgage. As a result, there is no “compensation” available to a homeowner in a foreclosure lawsuit. The best that a lawyer can do is defend the lawsuit to help ensure that the homeowner can stay in the home while working with the bank to pay off the mortgage or come to another type of loss mitigation settlement.
Settlement Out of Court
Finally, any lawsuit could also potentially settle out of court rather than go to a final judgment. The compensation paid out through an out of court settlement could be any type of remedy described above, but settlements can also include other more creative remedies.
An out of court settlement is essentially a contract between two parties, which means that the possible remedies are only limited by what the parties can legally contract to promise. For example, in an employment case, the parties could reach a settlement that involves a terminated employee being rehired instead of payment of back pay or other wages. Similarly, most settlements also involve confidentiality provisions that ensure that the facts of the lawsuit are never discussed. This confidentiality is contrasted with a lawsuit in court that becomes public record. The extent of a settlement out of court is limited only by the imaginations of the parties, and settlements can result in a wide variety of compensation.