Damages in a Personal Injury Case: When you have been hurt in a car accident, as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, or because a property owner failed to repair a serious hazard on the property, you may be thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation. When you are considering options for seeking compensation and whether it makes sense to file a civil lawsuit, you will likely be wondering how much your claim is worth. While it is difficult to put a dollar figure on a particular case without assessing its particular facts, it is important for any potential plaintiff to understand the types of damages for which she or he may be eligible.
We want to provide you with more information about damages awards in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And if you need assistance with your lawsuit, an experienced Santa Fe personal injury attorney at our firm can analyze the facts of your case today to help you estimate your potential recovery.
Compensatory Damages in a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawsuit
In general, a plaintiff is almost always going to seek compensatory damages. As you might have guessed from the name, compensatory damages are a particular kind of award designed to compensate a plaintiff for specific losses. There are two different kinds of compensatory damages — economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include any monetary, direct losses for which the plaintiff can provide an objective dollar amount. To be clear, the amount of economic damages is never in dispute because a plaintiff will have specific bills or pay stubs—the dollar figure is an objective one. Examples of economic damages include hospital bills, rehabilitative therapy costs, prescription medicine costs, and lost wages as a result of being unable to work. Non-economic damages are not objective. Indeed, non-economic damages are still designed to compensate a plaintiff for losses, but this type of damages award compensates for subjective losses for which it can be difficult to assign a dollar figure. To be clear, not everyone will agree on a precise dollar figure that encapsulates, for example, a plaintiff’s pain and suffering or disfigurement. Beyond pain and suffering or disfigurement, non-economic damages can also include, for instance, compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder or the loss of enjoyment of life.
In most types of personal injury cases, there is no cap on compensatory damages. In other words, a plaintiff receives whatever amount the jury awards. However, in medical malpractice cases in Santa Fe, New Mexico law caps medical malpractice damages at $600,000. That amount excludes compensation for a plaintiff’s medical care and related benefits.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case – Punitive Damages
In some cases, a plaintiff may be eligible to seek punitive damages. Different from compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate a plaintiff for anything. Instead, punitive damages are aimed at punishing the defendant for particularly egregious negligence or very harmful behavior. While a plaintiff still receives punitive damages, this type of recovery has a different purpose.
Generally speaking, punitive damages are only available when a defendant was so reckless that she or he disregarded the life of others, or engaged in malicious, wanton, or willful conduct. Punitive damages are difficult to obtain, but may be possible depending upon the circumstances of your case.
Contact a Santa Fe Personal Injury Attorney
Do you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit or seeking compensation after an accident? Our Santa Fe personal injury attorneys can help with your case. Contact Slate Stern Law to learn more about how we serve plaintiffs in New Mexico.