The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Damages in a New Jersey Personal Injury Case

When are punitive damages awarded in a personal injury suit in NJ?

Accidents can leave their victims with a wide array of injuries.  Individuals injured in an accident based on another’s negligence could endure broken bones, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, and any number of other critical injuries. With these injuries will come associated losses like the inability to return to work, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.  New Jersey accident victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party that caused their injuries in order to recover compensatory and potentially punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate an accident victim for the losses they have endured as a result of their injuries.  Compensatory damages will include both economic or quantifiable losses and non-economic, more difficult to calculate losses. The types of compensatory damages that may be recovered through a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Medical expenses:  A serious injury will result in medical expenses that could include hospital fees, doctor’s office costs, diagnostic costs, rehabilitation, and nursing home costs.  The most serious of injuries could require a permanent caregiver or stay in a medical facility.

  • Lost wages:  Due to the injury, you may find yourself needing to take time off work.  These lost wages may be compensable in a personal injury lawsuit. At times, a serious injury could permanently impact your ability to perform your job. The lost wages associated with your reduced earning capacity can be sought in a lawsuit.

  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering involves the intangible losses you have endured as a result of the accident.  It can include your physical pain and suffering, along with your emotional and mental pain and suffering linked to the incident.

Compensatory damages have no limits per New Jersey law.  To recover for the amount of compensatory damages you seek, you will need to offer evidence of these losses.

Punitive Damages

While compensatory damages will be sought in any personal injury case, punitive damages are not awarded as a matter of course.  New Jersey law allows for the award of punitive damages, which are damages intended to punish the wrongdoer, only when the defendant’s conduct was malicious or demonstrated reckless indifference.  New Jersey caps the award of punitive damages to $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever sum is larger. Your personal injury attorney will review your potential case and better determine what types of damages you may be eligible to seek in your legal action.

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