If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another individual, you may seek to receive monetary compensation in the form of damages. Your New Jersey personal injury lawyer will discuss your case with you in order to get you the compensation you deserve. We understand no amount of money can take away the pain and suffering, as well as the emotional trauma, that so many people experience after an accident. In this blog, we will discuss the differences between compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in New Jersey
Compensatory damages compensate you for a variety of things, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills
- Property damages
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Loss of consortium/companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Compensatory damages are not capped because they are in place to compensate you for your financial losses. Conversely, punitive damages are in place to punish whoever is responsible for your injuries. Punitive damages are capped at a fixed amount because a defendant’s behavior is egregious to the extent that the judge or jury wants to make an example of the defendant and deter further bad behavior.
Punitive Damage Caps in New Jersey
Based on Section 2A:15-5:14 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, the caps on punitive damages may not exceed $350,000 or five times the amount of any compensatory damages, whichever is the greater amount. A judge must determine punitive damages that are justified under the circumstances and are reasonable.
This means that, under New Jersey law, if you’re awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages, the punitive award cannot exceed $500,000. The judge has a duty to reduce the punitive damages award to a number that fits within these requirements if the jury awards you an amount that exceeds them.
However, in cases where the defendant is convicted of a crime in connection with the injuries, damage caps are not applied.
What is the Purpose of Damage Caps?
Policy makers believe large damage caps can have a negative impact on the economy as a whole. Damage caps reduce liability of service providers in lawsuits that could otherwise lead to strongly hurting insurance companies. In hurting the insurance companies, costs of insurance would inevitably rise drastically, increasing how much is paid by patients on services per year. Damage caps prevent the system from negatively affecting our economy, allowing the system to function in a positive way.
If you have been injured and have questions on the damage caps you may experience in New Jersey, do not hesitate to call us at 732-888-8888 and speak to a member of our experienced team. We will go over what these caps may mean for your case and how to best move forward.