If you sustained injuries in a car accident in New Jersey, you may wonder if you can collect damages for pain and suffering and, if so, if the state will limit those damages. Briefly put, yes, you may pursue compensation for pain and suffering and no, the amount of compensation you can receive is not limited. However, as with all matters of the law, nothing is cut-and-dry.
According to FindLaw, because it is difficult for any judge, juror or medical provider to put a cost on pain and suffering, and because jurors are often easily swayed by emotional stories, courts fear that jurors will abuse non-economic damages and award over-the-top verdicts. After all, it is not unheard of for jurors to assign awards that are significantly higher than the actual economic damages that occurred as a result of the accident. As a result, most states limit the amount in damages injured parties may receive. Some states limit recovery only to individuals who sustain physical injuries and whose pain and suffering is literal. Fortunately for New Jersey accident victims, New Jersey does not put a cap on non-economic damages.
That said, New Jersey is not a free-for-all state either. The law does create some limits, though those limits are few. For one, because New Jersey is a comparative fault state, courts limit a party's recovery by the degree of fault he or she assumes. For instance, if the state decides that a plaintiff is 30 percent liable for an accident, it will reduce the plaintiff's settlement by 30 percent. If the state assigns a party more than 50 percent liability, it bars the accident victim from recovering compensation entirely.
New Jersey also caps punitive damages, which are damages the state awards as a means of punishing a defendant whose actions were particularly reckless. The state caps these damages at five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
The content in this post is purely informational. It should not be construed as legal advice.