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Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Personal InjuryIf you’ve been hurt because of inattention or negligence of another person, and you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, one of your first questions is likely to be “what is my case worth? What can I reasonably expect to recover in a personal injury lawsuit?”

The legal term that refers to the monetary compensation to which you are entitled in a personal injury claim is “damages.” There are a number of ways that the courts look at potential damages. The first way that damages may be categorized is as compensatory or punitive damages. Compensatory damages are designed to “compensate” you for a specified loss. Among the losses for which compensatory damages may be available are:

  • Lost wages or income because your injury prevents you from working
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses, both current and projected
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship or consortium—loss of intimacy with your spouse or partner or companionship with a family member
  • Emotional distress

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are not designed to compensate you for your losses, but are intended to sanction the defendant for wrongdoing that is considered egregious, and to send a message to others that similar behavior may result in monetary penalties. Most states have limits on punitive damages. In New Jersey, for example, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of five times compensatory damages or $350,000. There are no caps, though, for discrimination claims, DUI caused injuries, sexual abuse, bias crimes or AIDS testing disclosure.

Contact Our Office

For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 973-993-8787. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.