While most personal injury damages are awarded on the basis of the injured party’s losses, punitive damages are quite different. Instead of compensation for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, punitive damages are intended to send a message or punish the at-fault party for its actions. In New Jersey, such damages are rarely awarded. However, if the defendant’s actions were dangerous, undesirable, or horrific, punitive damages help deter both the defendant and others from committing similar acts. Read about what can be claimed as punitive damages in New Jersey.
When are Punitive Damages Awarded?
In most cases, punitive damages are awarded when the defendant commits an act that was done intentionally or with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Examples include oppression, fraud, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and willful misconduct. In order for you to be awarded punitive damages, you must specifically request it in your lawsuit, and the jury will decide if it is appropriate based on your individual case. Keep in mind that each case is unique and juries verdict differently, so the chances of receiving punitive damages can vary greatly.
How Can You Prove Punitive Damages?
The plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s actions. It must be shown that the defendant acted with malice or without regard to the harm he or she caused, meaning there must be no substantial doubt about the conclusions of the court or jury. There are many factors that juries will consider in deciding whether to award punitive damages. These include the duration of the reckless act, the likelihood of serious harm, and whether the defendant knew that his or her actions would result in that harm. Punitive damages require the defendant to pay up to five times the amount of compensatory damages. Because of the size of this damage award, punitive damages are usually imposed on wealthy corporations or individuals, as well as insurance companies.
Limits of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are awarded or reserved for serious cases only. They are also not available in every type of lawsuit, and you need an experienced attorney to tell you if your case qualifies to avoid this cap on punitive damages. Under New Jersey law, punitive damages are most likely not allowed in personal injury cases, but there are certain circumstances in which you can prove that you are entitled to them. These include wrongful death cases where the defendant’s conduct was intentional. For example, the guilty party got behind the wheel while drunk, which led to reckless driving that killed someone. The jury may then decide to award punitive damages because the defendant’s actions warranted it. You and your personal injury attorney can seek punitive damages, but always remember to set realistic expectations for the outcome.
About Corradino & Papa, LLC
Are you filing a personal injury lawsuit? Corradino & Papa, LLC has a team of attorneys dedicated to fighting for the rights of injury victims. With extensive financial resources and decades of experience, we provide our clients with the highest level of legal representation. Contact Corradino & Papa, LLC today for a free initial consultation.