Whether it's a vehicle accident claim, slip and fall, or product liability claim, if you’ve been injured due to another party’s negligent or reckless acts you may be considering a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Successful plaintiffs in a personal injury claim can recover financial compensation for their losses. However, depending on the state and other circumstances, there may be a limit to damages in a personal injury claim.
What are the Types of Damages in a New Jersey Personal Injury Claim?
Financial compensation for damages in a personal injury claim or lawsuit can fall into two categories -- compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are designed to fully compensate the injured person for their losses. Punitive damages, which are very rare in personal injury cases, are saved for the most egregious situation and are designed to punish the defendant for their actions (or lack thereof).
Examples of Compensatory Damage in New Jersey
Compensatory damages include what are called economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are designed to make the injured party financially whole. These types of damages often can be proved through documentation, bills and evidence of the cost. The most common type of economic damages are medical bills and lost income. Keep in mind that medical bills include the any expense incurred in relation to treatment for the injuries including:
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Co-pays and out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Medical devices
Lost income includes any income the injured person would have otherwise received had they been able to work but couldn’t because of the injuries. In the case of serious injury that results in the injured person being permanently unable to work or work at the same job, future lost income and earning capacity could be a part of the economic damages awarded.
Unlike the concrete economic damages, non-economic damages refer to intangible losses suffered by the injured victim. While economic damages are usually intended to help restore a person to their financial position before the accident, non-economic damages are a form of compensation that accounts for an injured person’s physical pain and mental anguish due to their suffering as a result of the accident. Common kinds of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Does New Jersey Cap Compensation Awarded for Non-Economic Damages?
No, unlike many other states, there is no limit – by law – to the amount awarded for non-economic damages in New Jersey.
Compensatory Damage Limits in New Jersey
While there is no limit, per se, on compensatory damages that may be awarded in a New Jersey personal injury claim, there may be other factors that limit how much financial compensation may be available. Insurance coverage limitations by you or the at-fault party may limit compensation available. And, if you are at-fault in any way, your financial compensation may be lowered, under the comparative fault law.
Most often, an insurance company is paying the damages awarded to the injured victim in a personal injury lawsuit. The limits of the insurance policy may limit how much is available.
For instance, New Jersey’s no-fault insurance laws dictate that the primary insurer for any vehicle accident claim is your own insurance coverage. If you have a low PIP coverage amount, you may only be able to recover up to the limit of that policy, regardless of fault. Only if the other driver carries liability coverage for bodily injury would you be able to file an additional claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation beyond your policy limits – up to their coverage limit.
Especially in a car accident, it is fairly common that both parties made a mistake and contributed to the accident. For example, one driver may be speeding while another driver rolls through a red light. Both drivers’ actions contribute to the crash. In this case, an insurance company determines to what extent each party is liable and assigns a percentage. This is called comparative negligence.
Under New Jersey's insurance law, the monetary compensation or damages you can receive are reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. For example, if you were considered 10% at fault and your damage was $10,000, you could receive $9000 from the other driver's insurance company. Of note, if you are found more liable for the accident than the other driver (i.e. more than 50% your fault), you will receive no financial compensation.
Punitive Damages & Limits in New Jersey
In cases where the judge or jury determines that the actions of the defendant were reckless or egregious in nature, showing a wonton disregard for the rights and well-being of others, punitive damages could be awarded. The purpose of punitive damages is not to make the plaintiff whole like compensatory damages, but rather to punish the defendant for his or her actions and to dissuade others from similar behavior in the future. In New Jersey, when awarded, punitive damages are capped at five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
Get a Free Case Evaluation Now
Pursuing a legal claim after an injury accident may seem like a daunting task but we encourage you to consider allowing our team of attorneys at Brandon J Broderick to help you through the process. Without legal help, the insurance company can offer you a lowball offer that barely covers any of your needs and may even refuse to cover some of the damages. You may be left having to pay for the costs of your injuries on your own.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with personal injury settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback. Let us turn your setback into a comeback.