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What Damages are Available in a Personal Injury Case?

Apr 15, 2024 | Personal Injury

Being hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness can have a devastating impact on your life. Whether you’ve been involved in a car crash, slip and fall, pedestrian knockdown, work accident, or another incident, you might have suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally from your injuries. It’s important to understand the damages that might be available to you by filing a personal injury lawsuit. There are two main categories of damages that may be awarded in a personal injury case in New York — these include compensatory damages and punitive damages.  

What are Damages?

“Damages” is a legal term that refers to the economic and non-economic losses suffered by an accident victim due to another person’s reckless actions, negligent inaction, or intentional conduct. Simply put, they are a type of monetary award paid to a plaintiff who prevails in a lawsuit, in order to make them whole. 

What Compensatory Damages are Available in a Personal Injury Case in New York?

Compensatory damages comprise the monetary compensation an accident victim will receive as compensation for an injury caused by someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or recklessness. This category of damages includes both economic and non-economic losses. To recover compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to establish four elements. They must show the defendant: 1) had a duty of care; 2) breached their duty of care; 3) the breach was a direct cause of the resulting injuries; 4) economic and non-economic damages were suffered as a result.  

Specifically, the economic damages that may be available in a personal injury lawsuit can include the following:

  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Costs of surgery, doctors’ visits, hospitalization, and physical rehabilitation
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Household services costs
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries
  • Property damage in connection with the accident

While economic damages can easily be calculated based on the amount of financial losses, non-economic damages are those that are much more difficult to quantify. Also referred to as “pain and suffering,” non-economic damages award an accident victim for the physical pain, emotional suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life they experienced in connection with the accident. There is no cap on the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered in a New York personal injury claim. However, both the lower and higher courts of this state regularly decide what is “reasonable” compensation when evaluating pain and suffering claims.  

Recovering Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case   

Another category of damages that is awarded in some personal injury cases is punitive damages. But unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate an accident victim. Rather, they are designed to punish the defendant for their wrongful conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. 

Punitive damages are only available in limited cases where it can be shown that they are necessary. Significantly, the standard of “gross negligence” must be satisfied for a jury to award punitive damages. This means that a plaintiff must establish the defendant’s conduct was not only negligent, but it was also “willful and wanton.” In other words, it must be proven that the defendant acted with a complete disregard for the plaintiff’s welfare.   

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered damages in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. However, it’s essential to have a personal injury lawyer by your side who knows how to fight for your right to obtain the maximum monetary recovery to which you’re entitled. Due to our knowledge, candor, and skill, The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP regularly secures substantial settlements and significant verdicts for our clients. Located in Manhattan, our firm has been handling personal injury throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.   




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