There are many different types of damages recoverable through personal injury and medical malpractice claims. These commonly include financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. One less known type of compensation is known as punitive damages. This legal concept allows victims of injurious accidents to hold entities responsible for gross negligence while also providing a deterrent from future wrongdoing. Punitive damages are relatively uncommon but can be extremely lucrative for victims when applicable.
Our medical malpractice attorney will define punitive damages, go over New Jersey state regulations governing punitive damages award-able in personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits, and discuss how to recover punitive damages for clients.
What are Punitive Damages in NJ?
“Punitive” is loosely defined as an action which is intended to inflict punishment or act as a penalty for wrongdoing. Within the context of Somerset County personal injury and medical malpractice claims, punitive damages are generally reserved for situations when the at-fault party knowingly put a victim at risk of injury.
Pursuant to New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2A:15-5.12, punitive damages may be awarded when “harm suffered was the result of the defendant’s acts or omissions, and such acts or omissions were actuated by actual malice or accompanied by a wanton and willful disregard of persons who foreseeably might be harmed by those acts or omissions.” It is important to note that this is a distinct concept from proving the at-fault party acted with negligence, gross negligence, or recklessness.
Other factors may be considered including:
- Whether the at-fault party reasonably knew their actions or inactions would put the victim in serious danger
- The behavior of the at-fault party with the knowledge they may cause harm to the victim
- Intentional deceit or concealment of wrongdoing by the at-fault party
Bridgewater, NJ Personal Injury Lawyer Recovers Punitive Damages
Each individual case is unique and will be determined on its own merit. Therefore, your Bridgewater personal injury and medical malpractice attorney will strive to prove that the at-fault party acted with malicious intent or otherwise knowingly put the victim in a dangerous situation, leading to serious injury. In the course of a successful personal injury case, punitive damages may be capped due to New Jersey regulations.
As per N.J.S.A. Section 2A:15-5.9, punitive damages may be awarded up to $350,000 or up to five (5) times the compensatory damages awarded in your case. Compensatory damages refer to financial compensation offered for expenses and other financial hardships suffered due to the injury. Compensatory damages may include:
- Medical expenses including hospital bills, doctor’s bills, rehabilitation, etc.
- Lost wages for missed work in the past, present, and projected into the future
- Property damage such as damage to vehicles or other damaged assets
Non-compensatory damages which will not be considered in the punitive damage calculation may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of life’s pleasures
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
Injured in an Accident? Contact a Somerville Personal Injury Attorney Today
Attorney Brian J. Levine values his relationships with industry experts throughout the medical field, who assists him in developing the most compelling, evidence-based cases on behalf of his clients. He has never hesitated to tenaciously advocate for the rights of his clients in Hillsborough, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, Franklin and all over Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.
For a seasoned and skilled medical malpractice attorney, call now at 908-524-0123. or contact us via email. We take great pride in working with discretion and all consultations are conducted on a confidential basis.