How Are Compensatory and Punitive Damages Different?

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When you make a personal injury claim and file a lawsuit, you are likely to receive compensatory damages if you win. These help make up for the costs of your accident. You may also be able to sue for punitive damages that are not meant to address your expenses at all. These are meant to punish. Our Monmouth County personal injury attorneys can tell you if pursuing these types of damages is an option in your case.

Can Every Personal Injury Case Award Punitive Damages?

No. When you sue for compensatory damages, your case has to show that another party was negligent and that this negligence caused you harm. When you sue for punitive damages, you have to go a bit farther. You have to show that this was about more than a simple oversight or a momentary distraction.

What Kinds of Defendants Can Be Forced to Pay Punitive Damages?

Defendants who have to pay punitive damages have acted recklessly and without regard for the safety of other people. Think drunk drivers or a company that knowingly releases a dangerous and defective product. Punitive damages are not meant to reimburse the plaintiff. Instead, they are meant to serve as a warning to the defendant and others who might try to emulate their behavior.

What Are the Types of Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages can cover a wide range of expenses and help make up for the pain and suffering you have experienced. Your awards from a personal injury case can address:

  • Medical expenses, past and future
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Pain from disability or disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Any other pain and suffering

This type of compensation is meant to make you whole after you lose something in an accident, whether that’s a car crash or a slip and fall.

Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages?

The amount of punitive damages you can win is actually limited. Not every state has a cap, but New Jersey does. You can win five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. Even if a jury returns with a really high number, a judge can decrease your award to get it in line with state laws.

How Long Do I Have to Sue For Compensation?

New Jersey also gives you a limited amount of time to sue after an accident. If you are interested in pursuing compensatory and punitive damages, you must act within two years. We recommend that you contact our law firm as soon as possible so that we can get right to work on preparing your claim.

Schedule a Consultation With Our Firm

Don’t try and fight for compensation on your own. Contact the Wilton Law Firm and schedule your free consultation with our team. We can help you build the strongest personal injury case possible.