One of the biggest reasons for filing a lawsuit is claiming damages and recovering compensation. When people are injured in accidents or by the defendant’s negligence, their damages can be quite costly.
Various forms of damages might apply in some cases but not others. Compensatory damages are intended to put a plaintiff in the same financial position they were in before they were injured. These damages can include both economic losses and non-economic injuries. Punitive damages are designed to punish defendants for gross negligence but are not always available and are subject to limitations. Nominal damages are typically very small and are more like symbols of a court victor rather than actual compensation. How damages are paid depends on who is liable and how much blame they share.
After an injury, accident, or loss, you can file a lawsuit to claim compensation to cover your expensive damages. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys can help you understand the damages in your case. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 for a free case evaluation.
Compensatory Damages in New Jersey
Perhaps the most commonly awarded damages in many personal injury lawsuits are compensatory damages. As the name implies, these damages are meant to compensate plaintiffs for their losses. Compensatory damages tend to fall into the two broad categories of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are connected to explicit monetary values. If treatment for an injury comes with a bill, that bill should be factored into your economic damages. Many injuries and losses come at a great financial cost to injured plaintiffs. The overall sum of these losses should be carefully tallied up to calculate your economic damages.
Some examples of economic damages include medical bills, lost property, and lost income. Medical treatment for injuries can be very expensive, and many injured plaintiffs must continue receiving medical treatment well past the date their lawsuit is completed. You can claim your existing medical bills and any expected future medical bills as part of your damages.
You should also include the value of lost property in your economic damages. For example, if your car is totaled in an accident, you can claim the car’s value. You can also claim the value of lost perianal belongings.
While recovering from your injuries, there is a chance that you will be unable to return to work. It might also be possible that you can never return to work because your injuries left you disabled. You can claim your lost income and future lost income as part of your damages.
Non-economic damages can be difficult to understand as they are not connected to a financial loss or monetary cost. These injuries often do not come at an expense to the plaintiff but still deserve financial compensation. Our Jersey City personal injury attorneys can review any possible non-economic damages for your case.
One very common example of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. Many injured plaintiffs experience mental and physical pain and suffering for various reasons. Often, they come from physical injuries but can also result from emotional trauma.
Other non-economic damages include humiliation and damage to your reputation. Much like pain and suffering, these are painful experiences for plaintiffs but do not necessarily cost them money. We can argue the value of these damages by examining how they affect your daily life. For example, your pain and suffering might lead to a loss of enjoyment of life or an inability to leave your home.
Punitive Damages in New Jersey
Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages because punitive damages are not intended to make up for the plaintiff’s losses. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants and deter future bad behavior. Punitive damages are not always available and tend only to be awarded when the defendant’s actions were especially reprehensible.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.12, the court will award punitive damages only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were carried out with actual malice or a wanton and willful disregard for people who might be harmed. The defendant’s behavior must go beyond normal levels of negligence and rise to the levels of gross negligence.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.14, there is a limit on punitive damages. No plaintiff can recover more than five times the value of their compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, punitive damages will only be considered if you specifically claim them in your initial complaint.
Nominal Damages in New Jersey
Nominal damages are less frequently awarded but are still possible in many cases. Nominal damages are not designed to punish nor compensate anyone. Instead, these damages are meant to symbolize a court victory for the plaintiff.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.10, nominal damages are not designed to compensate plaintiffs and are worth under $500. These damages are not meant to make up for the plaintiff’s losses but to signify their victory in court. For some plaintiffs, the vindication of a court verdict is all they want from their case. If other damages cannot be claimed or proven in your case, our Newark personal injury lawyers can help you get nominal damages to represent your win.
Who Pays for Damages in New Jersey?
Defendants are supposed to pay for a plaintiff’s damages in a lawsuit, but when there are multiple defendants, it can be confusing as to who pays what. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.3(a)-(c), the full amount of your damages may be recovered from one defendant determined by the court to be at least 60% responsible for your injuries and damages. This means your total damages may be claimed from one defendant even if that defendant is not solely responsible as long as they are 60% responsible or more.
Additionally, if the defendant or defendants are less than 60% to blame for your damages, you may only recover damages in proportion to their share of the blame. So, if one defendant is 30% responsible, you can only recover 30% of your damages from them. Your remaining damages must be recovered from the other defendants. Our Paterson car accident attorneys can help you identify all defendants who share responsibility for your damages so you can recover the full amount.
Call Our New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys for Help
Damages are far more complex than many people realize. Without the help of a lawyer, you risk overlooking certain damages and minimizing your compensation. For a free case review and an evaluation of your damages, contact our New Jersey personal injury lawyers. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 today.