Compensation Available in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case
You may incur a range of losses when a negligent party causes harm. Many of these losses can negatively impact your finances. Examples include bills for medical care and lost wages, which you may incur if your injuries prevent you from working.
Losses that have a clear financial or monetary value are known as economic losses. You may account for them when negotiating for a settlement with an insurance company. If you have to go to trial, the jury should account for such losses if they award compensatory damages.
You might also be eligible to receive compensation for non-economic losses. For example, perhaps you sustain a spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident, rendering you paralyzed. Such an injury may prevent you from participating in activities you once enjoyed, being intimate with your spouse, and more.
You might struggle with pain, suffering, and mental anguish as a result of this experience. These losses don’t have exact monetary values. Regardless, you may receive compensatory damages for them.
What You Need to Know About Punitive Damages in Massachusetts Wrongful Death Cases
Under Massachusetts law, punitive damages are available in wrongful death cases, but only in certain circumstances as stated by statute.
Wrongful death occurs when a negligent party causes someone else’s passing. Their loved ones may submit a wrongful death claim on their behalf if they would have had the right to file a personal injury claim had they lived.
Massachusetts juries may award punitive damages when it appears someone’s death resulted from the “malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant or by the gross negligence of the defendant.” Punitive damages serve a unique purpose when compared to compensatory damages.
As has been covered, compensatory damages serve to compensate plaintiffs for specific losses they’ve incurred. In a wrongful death case, examples of such losses may include funeral expenses, loss of a loved one’s companionship, and more.
Punitive damages serve a different purpose. Their function is to punish a negligent party. By making a negligent party pay the price for their actions or carelessness, a jury may deter them from engaging in similar negligence going forward. This can protect others who might have become victims.
Proving Eligibility for Damages in a Massachusetts Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case
Usually, the main focus when filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim or lawsuit in Massachusetts is to seek compensation for your losses. Given the challenges in proving “gross” or “reckless” conduct in a wrongful death case, a plaintiff might not necessarily expect to receive punitive damages as well. However, there are facts which, if proven, might form the basis for a strong case of conduct by defendant so egregious, that punitive damages are warranted. Having an experienced and skilled attorney at your side to garner and evaluate key evidence will be critical in assessing the likelihood of the successful pursuit of punitive damages.
Your attorney should prioritize gathering evidence of your medical bills, lost wages, and other such losses for which you may deserve compensation. Gathering the documentation you need is just one of many tasks a Boston personal injury lawyer at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. can assist you with. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us today at (617) 742-1900 for a free case review.