Non-Economic Damages in Medford Personal Injury Cases
Often in high-profile personal injury cases, the plaintiff receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation—far more than the value of the medical expenses associated with their injury. In such scenarios, chances are the court awarded that individual a substantial sum in non-economic damages in addition to the actual financial cost of the accident.
If you recently suffered an injury in an accident and need help understanding how much non-economic damages in Medford personal injury cases could be worth, a local injury attorney from our office is available to assist.
How Do Medford Civil Courts Define Non-Economic Damages?
When someone suffers a personal injury but has substantial difficulty quantifying the actual dollar value of certain effects of that injury, the court may award non-economic damages. In other words, non-economic damages are the effects of a personal injury for which there is no objective economic value.
Generally, non-economic damages in Medford civil cases encompass subjective aspects of personal injuries such as pain and suffering and punitive damages. Pain and suffering usually refers to the negative impact the victim’s injury has on their life beyond financial considerations such as medical bills and lost wages. This impact may include factors such as:
- How the injuries affect daily life
- Effects on relationships with family and friends
- Long-term scarring or disfigurement
- Stress, emotional trauma, and other psychological harm
Punitive damages could be awarded to further punish the defendant in a civil case for their actions that resulted in harm to the plaintiff. Frequently, the purpose of these damages is to act as a deterrent against similar behavior in the future for both the defendant and other parties in similar circumstances.
It should be noted, however, that in most civil claims, punitive damages are not a factor. Generally, the behavior which gives rise to a personal injury does not rise to a level warranting punitive damages.
Are there Caps on Punitive and Non-Economic Damages?
Since non-economic damages in Medford personal injury cases are extremely difficult to quantify, they could sometimes present the potential for frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards. In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision establishing specific guidelines to limit punitive damages.
New Jersey has enacted further restrictions to curb excessive awards. Punitive damages are capped at $350,000 or five times the compensatory damages awarded, whichever amount is greater. New Jersey does not currently place a cap on awards compensating a victim for pain and suffering.
New Jersey follows what is called a modified comparative fault rule with respect to reducing damages based on who was at fault in an accident. This system limits a party’s damages in proportion to the degree of fault they personally bear for the accident. If a plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, they cannot recover damages.
At trial, the judge or jury (whichever is acting as fact-finder in the case) assigns percentage values for fault to each party, and damages are reduced accordingly. For example, in a case involving a car accident, if the jury determines the victim is 40 percent at fault for the accident because they were driving in excess of the speed limit, the victim would be entitled to recover 60 percent of the total damages award.
Ask a Medford Attorney about Non-Economic Damages in Personal Injury Cases
An experienced lawyer could assist you in understanding non-economic damages in Medford personal injury cases and help calculate a reasonable amount to pursue given your circumstances. Allow one of the seasoned Medford lawyers to guide you through the process of assigning value to the invaluable and taking the next steps to recovery.