What Types of Damages Are Available in a New York Personal Injury Case?

If you suffer a personal injury, you will likely sustain losses beyond the injury itself. In many cases, New York law recognizes the rights of individuals to receive compensatory damages– for both economic and non-economic losses.

The potential damages available depend on many factors, including the type of accident and the severity of the injury. Legal roadblocks and negotiation strategies also impact the final recovery. Always discuss this with a personal injury lawyer to gain a complete understanding of your rights.

Compensatory damages available for a personal injury in New York

The purpose of compensatory damages is to make an injured person “whole.” They can be divided into general and special damages. They also need to be proven, even though there may not be a clear monetary value.

General damages

General damages are non-monetary losses. In New York, they are available in many, but not all, personal injury claims. Since New York is a no-fault car insurance state, general damages are not recoverable after a car accident unless the injuries are classified as “serious” under the state statute. They can still be recovered in non-auto injuries like slip and fall, workplace injuries, or many other situations.

General damages can include:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Lost opportunity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Since they do not have precise dollar amounts assigned, your attorney will help calculate the value of them. Calculations are typically based on computer programs or formulas that begin with the estimated special damages and then apply a multiplier– based on factors unique to the case. This is an area where insurance companies and defense lawyers tend to undervalue a claim significantly. It means that having a strong advocate on your side can go a long way toward reaching a fair resolution.

Special damages

Special damages are economic damages, and they are much easier to calculate because they are associated with more straightforward monetary values. They can include:

  • Medical expenses, both those already incurred and those anticipated in the future
  • Past and future lost income
  • Out-of-pocket costs like medication and household help
  • Property damage

Economic damages that have already been incurred can be proven with bills and receipts. Future damages will also need supporting evidence such as medical reports outlining future treatment, wage projections, and expert opinions calculating the future financial impact of the accident.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are not compensatory. They do not compensate the victim for losses they have experienced. Instead, punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct by others.

In most cases, punitive damages are not awarded. They are reserved for cases of egregious or reckless behavior. When they are awarded, they can increase a jury’s or judge’s award several-fold. If you were hurt because of this type of behavior and punitive damages might be warranted, discuss the issue with a lawyer.

What determines the amount of damages

Most personal injury cases settle before going to trial, but settlement amounts are influenced by what the parties expect a jury to decide. Some of the factors that plaintiffs’ attorneys and insurance companies take into consideration include:

  • The severity of the injury
  • How long recovery should take
  • Whether any lasting disability is expected
  • Whether the fault is clear-cut
  • Personal factors, like whether witnesses come across as truthful

Discuss your case with a skilled lawyer

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury and believe someone else’s negligence caused it, discuss your case with a New York City personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at Douglas & London fight for the rights of victims who have suffered injuries due to auto accidents, workplace mishaps, defective medical devices, property hazards, and other unfortunate situations. Call Douglas & London today to discuss your case for free. Our team will review your situation and help you determine your legal options.