Personal injuries, auto accidents, and other legal incidents often result in damages and/or injuries to victims. Upon successfully filing a lawsuit, the plaintiffs in those cases might receive restitution, a type of award meant to compensate them for losses.

That said, restitution can be a complex topic to understand in and of itself, and you may not know whether you or a loved one qualify. Read on for more information, or call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-516-342-2200 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation today! Our seasoned team of trial lawyers is well-equipped and ready to help you as best we can, however we can, no matter your situation.

What Is Restitution?

Restitution is a legal concept with two (2) core purposes:

  • To make the plaintiff or victim in a case “whole,” usually by compensating them with a monetary award paid by the defendant or their insurance company.
  • To force a defendant in a case to give up gains obtained illegally via the plaintiff.

You can think of restitution as a type of damage. For example, if a contract partner illegally tries to write a clause in a business contract that locks their partner out of a business deal and the locked-out partner takes them to court, the contract partner could be on the hook for restitution. That’s because they committed an illegal act and (ostensibly) profited from the action.

Restitution can be applied to civil and criminal legal cases alike. However, it is only applicable in certain circumstances. Restitution can only be applied if there is a need for compensation or there’s a distinct interest in causing the defendant to give up illegally-acquired gains.

Are Restitution and Compensation the Same?

Restitution is technically a type of compensation, though they aren’t the exact same. The difference comes from the means by which the damages award is calculated by the court.

For instance, in a restitution situation, damages are calculated based on how much a hypothetical defendant gained from their illegal or harmful activities. In situations with compensation, damages are calculated based on the amount the plaintiff lost. Let’s look at two (2) examples:

  • First, a car accident victim says that a drunk driver injured them and a family member, plus caused damage to their vehicle. They are awarded compensation when the lawsuit is successful, and the compensation is calculated based on the medical bills, damage to the vehicle, etc.
  • Second, the plaintiff in a case says that the defendant stole their phone and sold it for a profit. The phone was worth $100, but the defendant sold the phone for $120. In this case, the plaintiff is awarded $120 in restitutionary damages because the restitution is intended to compensate the victim and punish the offender.

Again, the core difference between restitution and compensation is the calculation method. Restitution is only possible if it is feasible for the court to calculate damages to the plaintiff or profit made by the defendant. If this is not possible, other compensation types may be awarded, such as general damages.

What Are The Types Of Restitution Cases?

There are three (3) main types of legal cases where restitution might be applied.

First, in breach of contract cases, one party violates a valid contract. For instance, a business partner may commit an illegal act or some insider trading and make a profit. If they are taken to court, they could be required to pay restitution to the injured parties in the contract. Restitution might be calculated based on how much the defendant gained from breaching the contract.

Second, restitution might be awarded to cover medical expenses in personal injury cases. Because restitution isn’t the same as compensation, restitutionary damages might only be awarded for medical bills and other calculable damages rather than emotional pain or suffering.

Third, the victim could require restitution instead of legal fines in criminal cases. For example, if a shop is broken into and the store owner sues the criminal, the criminal could be required to pay restitution to the store owner to help them pay for repairs to their doors or windows.

In each of these situations, restitution is levied to help the injured individual or party and ensure that the initially benefiting party does not get to keep their ill-gotten gains.

What Are Restitutionary Damages?

Restitutionary damages are any monetary awards given to a plaintiff or injury victim as restitution. Restitutionary damages are commonly awarded in situations:

  • When a contract is deemed to be unenforceable (for example, in contract breach cases as described above).
  • To ensure a fair outcome for contract terms.
  • As a criminal sentence in order to make a financial or timely restitution to a victim or injured party.

Whether a court requires restitutionary damages or compensation depends on the circumstances of the case. Therefore, legal representatives can have an outsized impact on whether or not you or your loved ones may see restitution for a criminal or civil case.

Contacting experienced attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers is the ideal way to know whether restitution is possible for your upcoming lawsuit. Contact us online or at 1-516-342-2200 to learn more about how we can represent you in court, gather evidence on your behalf, and answer any questions you may have.

How Are Restitutionary Damages Calculated?

A plaintiff can only file for restitutionary damages if those damages are measurable. For example, if you know the monetary value of your damaged or destroyed vehicle, you can file for restitutionary damages. However, you can’t file for restitutionary damages for the emotional trauma you experienced during a car accident.

Depending on the circumstances and details of the case, a court may calculate restitution in different ways. For instance:

  • In contract cases, damages are usually awarded based on the existing contract terms. In a breach of contract case, the contract in question could be voidable, unenforceable, or discharged.
  • In personal injury cases, damages are usually calculated based on medical bills. However, they can also be calculated based on any damage to personal property or monetarily measurable pain and suffering.
  • In cases with unenforceable contract terms, restitutionary damages are calculated based on the intended benefits to be received. Alternatively, they could be based on the financial gains of the defending party (i.e., the party who breached the contract and its terms).

Speaking to knowledgeable, seasoned attorneys to learn how restitution could be calculated for your case is a wise idea. The right attorneys understand whether restitution can be acquired based on your available evidence and legal precedent.

More importantly, your seasoned attorneys can tell you whether you should pursue restitution or if you should pursue some other type of damages. Compensation, punitive damages, and actual damages might be wiser financial goals if, for example, you can readily prove how much you lost in monetary value due to another party’s negligent or malicious actions.

When Are Restitutionary Damages Limited?

In some cases, restitutionary damages can be difficult to calculate. In those cases, restitution awards might be limited or not possible at all. That’s because restitution is always determined based on what a victim/plaintiff or their legal team can prove.

For example, imagine an instance in which a car is stolen from a case plaintiff. They accuse the thief of having sold the car and made a monetary profit off of it. However, if they can’t prove that the defendant in the case actually sold the car and earned money for it, they will likely not be able to file for restitution. That said, they may still file for damages, as it may be easier to prove that they suffered financially and/or personally from the theft.

This once again highlights the differences between restitution and compensation. Restitutionary damages might not be the ideal damages to pursue based on your case. With the right lawyers, you’ll know whether you should file for restitution or compensation based on case details, which type of damages you will likely receive, and other factors.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

If you have a claim for restitution resulting from damages caused by another party, prompt action is essential. To that end, you can contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers right away, either online or at 1-516-342-2200.

With the assistance of our knowledgeable attorneys, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you and your family. Additionally, you’ll receive the legal advice you need to file a successful lawsuit.

But you shouldn’t wait, as your window to file a claim and recover financially may soon close forever. To keep that from happening, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now.

Dial 1-516-342-2200 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation today!

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You™™

restitution | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

Restitutionary Damages vs. Compensatory Damages: Explained | Lexology

Restitution Law for Victims of Crime |

Restitution | FindLaw

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