Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in New York

Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in New York

broken legIf you have been injured through another person’s careless actions, you are likely feeling overwhelmed by what to do next. Fortunately, in New York, there are options for pursuing compensation from the party that caused you harm. With the assistance of a seasoned Long Island personal injury attorney, you can get the compensation that you deserve so that you can move forward with your life.

As with other types of law, personal injury cases can be complex. Understanding the fundamentals about personal injury cases can give you peace of mind as you move forward in the process. This includes learning about what types of damages you may be entitled to in a personal injury lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Damages refer to the compensation that a court or a jury may award to a person who has been injured by another party. There are three types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit:

  1. economic (or compensatory) damages (which cover losses such as current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage)
  2. non-economic damages (which cover losses such as such as pain and suffering and disfigurement)
  3. punitive damages (which are meant to punish wrongdoers and prevent others from engaging in similar conduct)

Damages are awarded by a court or a jury when a case goes to trial. Most personal injury cases are settled outside of court, through careful negotiation between a Long Island personal injury attorney and the insurance company. In those cases, the compensation is referred to as a settlement.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a victim for the harm that he or she has suffered. They are often easier to ascertain than general damages, because your Long Island personal injury attorney can attach a number to each category of loss.

For example, consider a situation where your cell phone exploded because the battery overheated when it was charging. If you were injured by that explosion, you may have property damage as well as medical bills from your injuries. You may have also had to take time off of work while you were healing and to deal with the aftermath.

In addition, depending on the extent of the injuries, the explosion might affect your future ability to work. All of these costs can be part of your total claim for compensatory damages. Your Long Island personal injury attorney will investigate your case thoroughly, and take into account your past, current and future medical bills, health-related costs, and inability to work before submitting a claim.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are not meant to compensate a victim for the harm that they have suffered. Instead, they are meant to teach the party who was in the wrong a lesson — and serve as a warning to others who may be tempted to act in a similar way.

In personal injury cases, punitive damages are rarely awarded because they are meant to punish a person or entity who did something wrong. Most personal injury cases involve negligence rather than intentional acts. Negligence is the failure of a person or entity to use reasonable care to prevent injury or loss to another person. For this reason, punitive damages are not often awarded in personal injury claims.

However, if a person or entity was willfully negligent or had malicious intent while causing your accident, punitive damages may be appropriate. In the exploding cell phone example above, if the company who manufactured your phone knew that there was a problem with the batteries overheating and chose to not issue a recall or otherwise warn consumers, it may be viewed as willful negligence. In that case, punitive damages may be appropriate to punish the cell phone manufacturer and to warn other manufacturers to not put dangerous products into the marketplace.

Work with a Long Island Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been hurt in any type of accident, a Long Island personal injury attorney can help you recover the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Your lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and work with you to determine what type of damages you may be entitled to: compensatory (economic), non-economic, and possibly punitive damages.

At Siler & Ingber, our practice is dedicated to helping victims of all types of accidents. With a strong track record of success, we have recovered more than $50 million on behalf of our clients. We offer free initial consultations with a Long Island personal injury attorney, where you can learn more about your rights and options. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 877-718-6079, or online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.

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