Seeking Compensation for Damages? Know Your Options

When an individual suffers personal injury in an accident that involves other parties, they are likely going to want to know their options for pursuing litigation and ultimately receive monetary compensation for their damages. Read on for what New Jersey residents should know about the common types of damages awarded in personal injury cases.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are the type of damages that most personal injury victims envision when they consider the outcome of successful litigation. As the name implies, compensatory damages are intended to “compensate” the injury victim for the costs associated with their accident.

Many different factors can play into the final amount of compensatory damages a court decides to award to a plaintiff. Medical bills (and the cost of any future medical care) and loss of earnings (and any potential future earnings) are two of the most common things a court considers.

Other examples of compensatory damages include household expenses and costs associated with altered plans after the accident. In addition, more general and broad types of compensatory damages exist, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium and companionship. It can sometimes be challenging for a court to determine an accurate dollar value to place on these broader types of damages, which is why plaintiffs should plan to consult with an experienced local personal injury attorney prior to entering the courtroom.

Punitive Damages 

Punitive damages are the second major type of monetary award typically considered by personal injury courts. While compensatory damages are meant to compensate an accident victim for their loss, punitive damages are intended to send a message to the defendant.  In other words, punitive damages are intended to “punish” the defendant for their negligent behavior.

Like compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff. It is only the intention behind the monetary award that is different. While compensatory damages typically do not have a limit to how much can be awarded, New Jersey state law caps the amount of punitive damages at five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.

Considering the Role of Negligence

When someone suffers personal injury in an accident, they may erroneously assume that compensation for damages will be an automatic and guaranteed process. However, as any experienced personal injury attorney can attest, the decision for a court to award compensation is ultimately determined by how negligent each party was at the time of the accident.

In New Jersey, the state follows a doctrine of fault determination known as “contributory negligence.” Under this system, accident victims can only collect monetary damages if they are deemed by the court to be less at fault than the other party. Additionally, the percentage of compensation they can be expected to receive will be lowered by an amount that is proportional to their degree of fault for the accident.

Getting Professional Legal Counsel

Navigating the world of damages compensation and contributory negligence is typically outside the realm of possibility for the average American citizen. For years, the attorneys at Ferrara & Gable have been helping accident victims in New Jersey understand how the law can work for them.  Contact Ferrara & Gable today for expert insight into your unique case.