No Hidden Fees Involved


No Obligation to Continue Beyond the Case Review


Get All Your Legal Questions Answered


What Are Punitive Damages in a NY Personal Injury Case?

After a car accident, pedestrian accidents, slips and fall, dog bite, or another personal injury a NY personal injury case allows those harmed to seek damages. Damage, also called compensation by NY lawyers and courts, are meant to put the plaintiff back in the same position as before the accident or injury. There are two types of damages available to plaintiffs in a NY personal injury case: compensatory and punitive. Most people are far more familiar with compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages encompass your out-of-pocket costs to recover from a personal injury. Another term often used for compensatory damages is “actual damages” because these are the actual losses a plaintiff suffered from a car accident or subway accident. For example, in a NY personal injury case you can request damages to cover your medical bills, emergency medical treatment, loss of personal property (such as motor vehicle repairs), and loss of income if you are unable to work.

If your costs and expenses all fall under compensatory damages, then what can a plaintiff recover through punitive damages?

Purpose of Punitive Damages in a NY Personal Injury Case

The purpose of compensatory damages, within the context of a NY personal injury case, is pretty clear. If someone else was responsible for your slip and fall or motorcycle accident, the costs of recovery should be their responsibility, not yours. We can also call these economic damages. However, it is more difficult to understand why NY juries and courts accept punitive damages, frequently called non-economic damages, in a personal injury case.

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages. These damages aren’t meant to return the plaintiff to the same financial position as before the accident (remember that is the purpose of compensatory damages), but punish the defendant for bad conduct. Further, awarding punitive damages in a NY personal injury case is meant to deter others from engaging in the same reckless or negligent conduct in the future. Punitive damage is meant to serve a broader purpose for society by discouraging conduct that is reckless or grossly negligent.

Given the purpose of punitive damages, they aren’t awarded in every case. Punitive damages are meant to deter particularly outrageous behavior. To ensure juries and NY courts don’t allow punitive damages in every case or unfairly punish a defendant, there are rules around when and how a court awards punitive damages in a NY personal injury case.

Three Common Types of Punitive Damages

Just as there are several different types of compensatory damages, there are different punitive damages available to a personal injury plaintiff. These damages are frequently tied to extensive mental, emotional, or physical anguish after a NY personal injury. These non-monetary harms to a plaintiff are signs or indicators that a personal injury was particularly outrageous. Here are three types of punitive damages in NY personal injury cases.

One type of punitive damages is pain and suffering. These are damages for bodily pain and suffering that results from a disability, physical impairment, or pain of a personal injury. Pain and suffering includes physical pain, such as back or neck pain that prevents standing for any length of time, and also includes mental and emotional suffering directly related to these injuries.

The second type of punitive damages in a NY personal injury case is loss of consortium. When a personal injury has a substantial and lasting impact on the plaintiff’s marriage it is appropriate to request damages for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium covers the impact to the emotional and sexual aspects of a marriage. When requesting damages for loss of consortium, a plaintiff must be prepared to answer personal questions about his or her relationship and intimacy.

Finally, disfigurement and permanent disability are punitive damages awarded to a plaintiff when a NY personal injury will have a lifelong impact on the plaintiff’s physical appearance or physical capabilities. When an accident leaves the plaintiff with a permanent disfigurement, the jury can award damages that cover the mental anguish of this physical defect. Similarly, when an accident leads to permanent disability, often confirmed by expert testimony, the plaintiff can request punitive damages.

Receiving Punitive Damages in a NY Personal Injury Case

Punitive damages are rare in a NY personal injury case. Among the states that have implemented standards and rules for awarding punitive damages, NY is one of the toughest. Courts in NY consider punitive damages to be an extraordinary remedy, and therefore, only applicable in cases where the defendant acted in an outrageous or egregious manner.

If you feel entitled to punitive damages, it is best to speak with a NY personal injury lawyer. Our team at Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C. can help assess your slip and fall, dog bite, or construction accident case and advise on the availability of punitive damages. Then, we will fight to maximize your compensation and damages in court. Learn more when you contact our office.


Submit this form to have your case reviewed by our attorney.

Our Practice Areas

Our Office


New York City

Law Office of David S. Leigh
11 Broadway suite 615, New York, NY, 10004
New York NY 10004
(212) 843-0907

Meet Our Attorney


David S. Leigh

David S. Leigh is a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping those in the New York Metro area recover and find fair compensation after an accident or injury. 


David has helped my small business (photography) with several proposals and bid letters. He also took the time to explain the language of each letter. I would definitely use David again for all the legal needs of my business! William F Spencer
William Spencer
William Spencer
21:58 30 Aug 16
I worked with David while at the District Attorney's office. David is very knowledgeable in the law. David has outstanding attention to detail and the critical ability to see the big picture, then find and question the inconsistencies in the reports. This is a fundamental skill that makes a good criminal defense lawyer great. I highly recommend David.
Greg Green
Greg Green
20:27 07 Oct 15
David is a tireless advocate for his clients and a consummate professional with whom I've worked on a variety of legal matters. His character and integrity surely set him apart from many of his contemporaries. As colleague, I wholeheartedly recommend David to anyone seeking counsel in the NYC area.
Hari K. Singh
Hari K. Singh
13:32 05 Oct 15
David is a first-rate trial lawyer. Having had the opportunity to both watch him in trial and personally try a case with him, I can say that I would be glad to have him working with me on a case. His delivery is excellent, as is his ability to connect with a jury.
Bryce Allen
Bryce Allen
21:13 15 Nov 15
Knowledgable and great to work withI can't say enough good things about David. My husband needed his help with language for documents he'd need for his business. David was knowledgeable and told us exactly what we needed to hear. I can't think of anyone else I'd want to work with. The next time we need legal counsel, we're calling David.
Yahaira Castro
Yahaira Castro
14:41 28 Sep 15
I was looking for a personal injury lawyer and a friend of mine referred me to David. David is really smart and also great to work with. He really listens to you, works hard and he knows how to get results.
Lili Grossman
Lili Grossman
17:36 29 Oct 18
When my mother suffered back and shoulder injuries due to a car accident, Mr. Leigh went above and beyond to make sure she was rightfully compensated for her traumatic ordeal. He was tough with the insurance company yet very patient with my older mom, as he navigated her through these complex negotiations. He exemplifies what a personal injury attorney should be and we highly recommend him.
Max Patino
Max Patino
19:02 29 Oct 18
David is a top-notch lawyer who is very diligent in all that he does. He is not only a sharp legal mind, but actually has interpersonal skills that make him a caring advocate for his clients. I have had the privilege of working with David in private law practice and can easily say that few attorneys match him in personability, advocacy, verbal ability, and in-court and deposition strategy.
Samae Rohani
Samae Rohani
01:40 30 Oct 18
I was helping my cousin find an attorney and came across David's firm. We contacted him immediately and scheduled a consultation. He was very thorough and provided us with all the details we needed.
03:27 20 Dec 18
Thoughtful, knowledegable and a great attorney. I needed some legal advice and representation. He was everything you could ask for in a lawyer. David is top notch and I would highly recommend him.
Marisa Osorio
Marisa Osorio
21:24 26 Dec 18
David Leigh is a top notch attorney that I have worked with closely. He has integrity, excellent legal ability, and is able to obtain optimal results for his clients. I recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone looking for the highest level of representation.
Stephanie Plana
Stephanie Plana
22:02 18 Jan 19


No Pressure. Speak To An Attorney. No Hidden Fees.


How Much is a Slip and Fall Case Worth in NYC?

It’s very common to want to know exactly what your case is worth. Unfortunately, the classic lawyer’s answer applies: “it depends.”   Still, we can tell you what will go into that determination, and why.   Learn More Now: LiabilityDamagesExpert Help Liability   The first thing we have to prove in any slip and fall…

Injured in an NYC Train Accident? We Can Help.

When we tell people we handle railway personal injury cases they give us a skeptical look. We can almost read it loud and clear.   “Who gets injured in a train accident, unless they were doing something foolish?”   More people than you think. While reckless drivers and pedestrians cause many train accidents, they don’t…

Free Consultation