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What Are Punitive Damages?

After suffering catastrophic injuries at the hands of someone else, you may be entitled to full restitution. Your personal injury lawyer will need to complete a thorough investigation into the incident in question and gather the evidence needed to establish fault.

Once the liable party has been uncovered, it will be time to bring them to justice. Many injury victims know they can seek compensation for their economic damages, or financially based losses, such as their lost income or medical bills. And some are also aware that they can be compensated for non-economic damages, too, such as their pain and suffering, lost quality of life, emotional distress, and other non-financial losses.

But one type of award continues to leave many injury victims feeling confused—and that’s punitive damages. Continue reading to learn more about how punitive damages work and when they might be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. 

Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Punitive damages are losses that are awarded to the injury victim that go above and beyond the compensatory and non-economic damages they sought in their personal injury claim. These are not damages that you traditionally seek. Instead, it is up to the judge and/or jury to determine whether the liable party should be ordered to compensate the victim further. 

But you may be wondering why a judge or jury might order the liable party to compensate you beyond what your losses are worth. No amount of compensation will change what has happened to you, but there are certain circumstances in which an award of punitive damages may be appropriate. 

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?

Punitive damages are not awarded as frequently as you might think. They’ve been sensationalized in the media as these exorbitant awards given to people pursuing frivolous claims.

But the people we see are suffering from real tragedies, and in some cases, their injuries were caused by intentionally harmful or egregious actions on the part of the at-fault party. The judge and jury have the power to decide if the defendant’s actions were heinous

If they do award you punitive damages, it’s because the court wants to send a message that these actions aren’t to be tolerated. It’s also a way to further punish the liable party. 

You may not be able to tell up front whether you’ll be awarded punitive damages. But your personal injury attorney will have years of experience in handling cases like yours and will be able to help you understand how much you might expect to be awarded in your claim if your lawsuit is a success.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer 

If you hope to get the most out of your civil claim, you need exceptional legal representation advocating for your rights. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a qualified personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Dennis Smith, PLLC. You can reach us by phone at 212-835-1699 or through the online contact form included below when you are ready to get started on your case. 



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