When Am I Entitled to Punitive Damages in a New York Personal Injury Case?

Victims of accidents in New York are entitled to sue and recover damages for injuries they sustained because of someone else’s bad behavior. Once liability is established, usually by proving negligence, victims are entitled to compensatory damages they can prove in court for both the economic and noneconomic harms they have suffered. However, in some situations, victims can be entitled to more.

Punitive damages are designed with the dual purpose of punishing a defendant’s exceedingly bad behavior as well as serving to deter that defendant and others from engaging in the same behavior in the future. Punitive damages are entirely at the discretion of the judge or jury – both as to whether an award should be given and the amount. However, the standard for a defendant to recover punitive damages is much higher than simply proving negligence.

New York Punitive Damages

In New York, a plaintiff must prove that a defendant acted with complete disregard for the plaintiff’s safety or health to recover punitive damages. Rather, according to the Second Circuit, the plaintiff must present clear evidence of a defendant’s conduct reflects such a conscious and deliberate disregard of the interests of others that it may be called “willful and wanton.” This standard of proof is much higher than the standard for establishing negligence, which merely requires the plaintiff establish the elements of negligence “more likely than not” occurred.

Currently, there is no strict guideline to determine if clear evidence of “willful and wanton negligence” exists to merit a punitive damage award. However, some cases have given guidance as to situations where plaintiffs may be entitled to punitive damages. The Second Circuit has noted that punitive damages are permissible when a defendant’s actions “evince a high degree of moral turpitude” and demonstrate a criminal indifference to their civil obligations. The Second Circuit and New York Court of Appeal also found “willful or wanton” conduct sufficient to merit punitive damages when a defendant had notice or and even ignored a court order, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

For example of a case that rose to the level of “willful or wanton” conduct meriting a successful claim for punitive damages in a New York personal injury case: A diabetic, hypoglycemic hospital plaintiff was injected with an insulin reducing drug by a nurse who had already committed a previous medication administration error and was not given additional training or guidance. After the injection, neither the nurse nor the on-call doctor took any steps to monitor the plaintiff’s insulin levels throughout the night during which the plaintiff died. The plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages was upheld on appeal.

New York Personal Injury Legal Help

New York personal injury cases are complicated, emotional and confusing. If you are dealing with an injury or a death and want to learn more about seeking compensation from the responsible party and about the possibility of punitive damages, get in touch with the talented team of New York personal injury lawyers at MOWK Law. We are here to help.

Is My New York Personal Injury Claim Barred by the Statute of Limitations?

In any personal injury case, it is always best to act quickly to prevent your claim from being barred by New York’s civil statute of limitations. Each state has its own unique deadlines for various causes of action, so you should consult with a skilled personal injury attorney in New York to understand the often-confusing laws that may apply your claim.

Failing to abide by the statute of limitations may result in the loss of your claim forever. The party you want to sue can assert the statute of limitations as a defense if you do not file in a timely matter and move the court to dismiss the case. The severity of this repercussion means that while getting in touch with a lawyer may not be what you want to do while recovering from your injuries or loss of a loved one, it needs to be.

When Does A Statute of Limitations Begin to Run?

New York has codified different statutes of limitations for different civil causes of action, but generally the time limits range from one to six years. The time on the deadline will usually begin to run when:

  • The injury-causing incident occurs; or
  • If the harm or incident was not immediately discovered, the first date it becomes known.

What Is My Deadline to File a New York Lawsuit for Personal Injury?

New York has codified several specific, distinct statutes of limitations for many civil causes of action – these are distinct from any statutes of limitation that may attach to any crimes arising from or concurrently with the injury.

Currently, in New York you must file within three years from the date of the accident or harm for:

  • Product liability injuries;
  • Slip and fall injuries;
  • Damage to property;
  • Automobile accident injuries;
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress; and
  • Other negligence not already codified that results in personal injury.

It is necessary to act more quickly in other instances, as New York currently has a statute of limitations set at one year from the wrongful act for:

  • Libel,
  • Slander,
  • Assault,
  • Battery, and
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Personal injury claims for wrongful death must be filed no later than two years from the date the death occurred.

Finally, medical malpractice causes of action require particular care and attention to detail. New York has set the statute of limitations at either:

  • Two years and six months from the date the malpractice occurred; or
  • Two years and six months from the end of continuous treatment that was rendered by the party or the entity you are intending to sue for a specific injury, illness, or condition that has harmed you.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury because of another party, it is important to understand your rights and the actions you must take to avoid losing out on any compensation that may be owed to you. At MOWK Law, we are here to help. Set up you free consultation with us today to lean about our process, how we can help maximize you recovery and get your questions answered.

Can Negligent Security Result in a New York Premises Liability Lawsuit?

In some cases, yes. New York law creates a duty for property owners and operators to ensure the safety of their residents and guests. One of the most fundamental methods of fulfilling their duty to these individuals is through installing and maintaining basic security. Basic security usually entails:

  • Adequate, functioning lighting;
  • Secure entryways;
  • Functioning door locking mechanisms; and
  • Security systems, cameras, or other surveillance arrangements as required.

Failure to ensure these systems are installed or working properly leading to injury can constitute a form of premises liability and victims may be able to pursue damages for pain, suffering, and other economic losses they suffer.

Common Security Breaches

Negligent security can arise from acts or omissions that are all too common, including:

  • Poor, nonexistent, or broken surveillance systems;
  • Broken window and door locks;
  • Poor or malfunctioning lighting;
  • Dangerous conditions not remedied through routine maintenance;
  • Lack of or poorly trained security personnel;
  • Failure to properly screen security staff; and
  • Building entryways that lack security features or staffing.

Assault and Battery Liability

Assault and battery occurring at a property may also give rise to successful New York premises liability claims and damage awards. Property owners and managers have a duty to ensure guests are not at risk of foreseeable crimes. Failing to warn guests or residents of criminal activity in the area may also breach the duty of care legally owed. Premises liability may be found if an injury can be linked to situations arising from negligent security. For example, a shopping center operator who is aware of a recent increase in parking lot break-ins or muggings at their establishment has a duty to proactively add security patrols, post notices in the parking lot, add or replace lighting, or take other steps to protect their patrons and guests from harm.

This liability extends beyond commercial properties such as shopping centers and often affects owners and operators of:

  • Apartment and condominium complexes;
  • Restaurants;
  • Bars;
  • Nightclubs or entertainment venues;
  • Grocery stores;
  • Parking complexes;
  • Public buildings;
  • Hotels;
  • Banks;
  • Hospitals; and
  • Retail establishments.

Recovering Damages Under Premises Liability

Property owners and operators found to have negligent security can be responsible for a variety of damages through settlements and jury verdicts to their victims. Damages may be awarded not only for medical bills incurred from the victim’s injuries, but also:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Lost wages;
  • Future medical expenses that will be incurred;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Wrongful death;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Diminished future earning capacity.

Due to the complex nature of premises liability claims and the variety of damages that may be recovered, you should get in touch with the New York premises liability lawyers at MOWK Law immediately. If you are the victim of negligent security it is important to proactively protect your rights and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for any injuries you or your loved ones have suffered.