When a person has been harmed by the negligence of another person, they can file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages that they have suffered. There are many different types of personal injury lawsuits: some are pursued following automobile accidents or slip and fall accidents; some are a matter of a product causing an injury or illness; and some are a result of a health care professional failing to provide care at the level expected by their profession in similar circumstances.
This last is known as medical malpractice, and when a person suffers an injury as a result of medical malpractice they are entitled to compensation for medical expenses that they incur as a result of the injury, as well as other real damages such as lost wages or lost earnings capacity.
In the state of New Jersey, a victim of medical malpractice is also entitled to seek what is known as punitive damages for medical malpractice, but the state has limited the amount that a plaintiff is permitted to receive. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, then you need to know what the medical malpractice damage caps are in New Jersey. The personal injury attorneys at Malamut & Associates are happy to provide you with this information.
The state of New Jersey has very specific rules regarding punitive damages, which are specifically designed as a form of punishment against the person responsible. No victim is automatically entitled to punitive damages. For that reason, they are not included in the original complaint, and can only be requested in a separate phase of the trial, after compensatory damages have been established.
Punitive damages can only be awarded if significant damages have been assigned, and they are limited to an amount of either $350,000 or five times the compensatory damages that have been awarded – whichever is the greater amount – but the jury is not to be told about this limit.
If there is more than one defendant in a case, then the punitive damages need to be specific for each defendant. It is up to the judge who is hearing the case to make sure that the amount of punitive damages that the jury decides on is appropriate and reasonable based on the experience and injury suffered by the plaintiff. If the amount is not appropriate, then the judge has the power to eliminate the award entirely or to reduce it as they see fit.
Punitive damages have an entirely different goal from compensatory damages. Where the latter is intended to provide the injured person with a replacement for what they have spent or lost, punitive damages are meant to send a message of wrongdoing, and to act as a deterrent to anybody else who might act in a similar way in the future. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a medical provider’s negligence, and you believe that they acted with callous disregard for your well-being, then you may be entitled to punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. To learn about your own eligibility to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact the attorneys at Malamut & Associates today to set up a convenient free consultation.