Are Punitive Damages Available in a New York City Pedestrian Accident Case?

New York City pedestrians who suffer injuries in accidents that are caused by another party’s negligence can generally recover economic damages. These would include reimbursements for medical bills, lost wages, and expenses for transportation and therapy. Next, individuals can often recover non-economic damages to compensate for their pain and suffering. 

Last, under limited and particular circumstances, an individual may be entitled to punitive damages from the negligent party. However, their conduct had to be intentional or rose to a level of gross negligence and willful disregard for the injured party’s health and safety.

The New York City pedestrian accident lawyers at Douglas and London will fight to recover the full amount of damages that an individual is entitled to recover, including punitive damages, if warranted. If the facts of a case do not support a punitive damages award, our New York City personal injury lawyers will fight to recover the largest available amount actual damages that an accident victim is entitled to recover.

Under what circumstances might a New York City pedestrian be entitled to recover punitive damages?

Economic and non-economic damages are calculated on the victim’s actual losses. However, punitive damages are based on the negligent party’s egregious conduct, which is separate from the pedestrian’s losses. That conduct might include, for example:

  • driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, particularly if the negligent driver has received prior DUI or DWI citations
  • intentionally driving into a crowd of pedestrians in an incident of road rage
  • striking a pedestrian with a vehicle while fleeing from a police pursuit or the commission of a felony crime

New York State courts will entertain demands for punitive damages only when the negligent party conduct is so morally reprehensible that a significant financial penalty must be imposed as punishment. Courts will do this to deter similar behavior in the future– and to set an example for other parties who might have similar inclinations.

Can a New York City pedestrian recover punitive damages even if their actual damages are slight?

An injured pedestrian will be entitled to recover punitive damages based on the facts in their lawsuit against the negligent party. A serious injury will play a role in a punitive damages decision, but it is not a necessary condition. If the facts of a case show that the negligent driver acted willfully or had a reckless disregard for the pedestrian’s safety, they might be entitled to recover punitive damages even if they were not seriously hurt.

Therefore, you should always consult with a personal injury lawyer about recovering compensation for your losses and injuries as well as punitive damages– regardless of how minor your injuries appear to be. 

Who is responsible for paying punitive damages?

Insurance carriers do not offer coverage for intentional conduct and are generally not liable or responsible for paying a punitive damages award. If the defendant does not have the personal resources to pay punitive damages, the pedestrian’s attorney will look deeper into the facts of the case for payment sources.

For example, if the defendant was performing duties of their employment when a pedestrian was injured, the attorney will determine if the employer was in any way intentionally negligent in hiring the defendant or allowing them to operate one of the employer’s vehicles. 

Contact us at Douglas and London for a free consultation

You will never have an absolute right to recover punitive damages after you suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, but you will have a better opportunity to collect these damages when you retain an experienced lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case. 

At Douglas and London will review the details of your accident to assess your right to recover all of your economic and non-economic damages plus punitive damages. Please see our website or call our Manhattan offices as soon as it is possible to begin the process of recovering the full amount of damages that you deserve.