Can I Get Punitive Damages in NY? | O’Connor and Partners, PLLC

In New York, accident victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation for injuries they sustained due to someone else’s negligent behavior. Once fault is proven, victims may recover compensatory damages for their physical, emotional, and financial losses. In certain situations, however, they may recover more.

Punitive damages are awarded in some cases with the dual purpose of punishing a defendant’s exceedingly bad behavior and deterring others from repeating that poor behavior in the future.

The seasoned personal injury attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have helped accident victims throughout New York in a range of complex cases. We understand the hardships you may be facing after a serious injury and we are committed to helping you recover the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled under the law.

Does New York Allow Punitive Damages?

Although rarely granted, punitive damages can be awarded in certain New York personal injury cases if the jury decides that the at-fault party behaved in a remarkably reckless or malicious manner. These damages are meant to set an example that such intolerable behavior comes with considerable consequences.

It is only possible to recover punitive damages in a personal injury claim if the case goes to trial. These awards are not available for injury victims who settle out of court with the insurance company.

There is a high standard for awarding punitive damages in New York. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct was so deliberately and consciously negligent that it qualifies as “willful and wanton.” This means that in a car accident, for example, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses by proving the other driver caused the crash, you cannot obtain punitive damages unless you can prove that the other driver intentionally caused the crash, or displayed an egregious disregard for the safety of others, such as in a drunk driving accident.

Punitive Vs. Compensatory Damages

Every personal injury case is unique, and courts award compensation based on the specific facts and circumstances that are proven by evidence in a particular claim.

Compensatory damages involve compensation that reimburses a plaintiff for losses and out-of-pocket expenses. These damages can include things like:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from demonstrating the same behavior in the future.

Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in New York?

There is no cap on punitive damages in New York. The same is true with compensatory damages in New York.

When punitive damages are awarded, the amount is typically substantial. These awards are generally high because they must assist the plaintiff with his or her pain and suffering, but also because the award needs to send a clear message that similar behavior will be severely punished.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help My Case?

If you were hurt through no fault of your own, you deserve compensation for your losses. Personal injury cases can be incredibly complex, and require the knowledge, skill, and resources of an experienced attorney. Following a severe injury, it is generally in your best interest to contact a lawyer right away.

An attorney can help your case in a number of ways, by:

  • Investigating the facts surrounding your accident and injuries
  • Gathering evidence to support your claim, including medical records, police reports, and witness statements
  • Calculating the true value of your claim, to include both your current and future economic and non-economic losses
  • Negotiating for a fair settlement that reflects your losses
  • Taking your case to trial when a fair settlement cannot be reached

It is important to contact an attorney as quickly as possible after suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence. You only have a limited window of time in which to file a personal injury claim, and the clock starts ticking the moment you are hurt.

By waiting too long to contact a lawyer, you may jeopardize your chance at achieving justice. As time passes, evidence can fade, the memories of witnesses can diminish, and it can be increasingly difficult to connect your injuries with the accident that caused them.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Kingston Today

At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, our Kingston personal injury lawyers have decades of experience helping accident victims and families navigate the recovery process.

See our results.

Contact O’Connor & Partners, PLLC today online or at (845) 303-8777 to discuss your case for free. Our firm proudly serves the Hudson Valley area, including Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, New York.

There is no cost or obligation to speak with an attorney and your case will be handled on a contingency basis, meaning you owe nothing unless a successful outcome is reached in your case.

by O'Connor & Partners, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Personal Injuries