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.
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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.
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