We all hear stories of juries awarding injury victims or surviving family members large sums as punitive damages, above and beyond ordinary compensation.
By statute, New Hampshire does not permit injured parties to request punitive damages. It is one of only a handful of states to do so. On the other hand, there are exceptions.
But 'Punitive Damages' May Be Awarded Under A Different Name
Punitive damages are allowed in aggravated circumstances in which the negligent party behaved very badly. Instead, the plaintiff is allowed to demand compensation for the defendant's conduct. The state does not call them punitive damages, but lumps them in with the ordinary compensation, the actual damages you receive.
However, when the act involved serious misbehavior, a compensatory damages award may reflect the aggravating circumstances. Juries may want to make an example of reckless behavior.
What constitutes egregiously bad behavior? It is behavior that may be seen as wanton, malicious or oppressive — an action of extreme and willful recklessness. Drunk driving that results in serious injury often meets this definition. While it is not an easy standard to meet, our lawyers have had success in being awarded these extra compensatory damages.
Key to succeeding in punitive damages cases is a solid knowledge of all the cases tried in the state in which these damages were awarded. Our lawyers are strong in their understanding of statutory law, as passed by the legislature. But they are equally adept at interpreting the ocean of case law — individual, precedent-setting cases — that apply to your situation.
To learn if your injury qualifies for special damages, we invite you to talk to the attorneys at The Law Offices of Stephen C. Brown & Associates in Rochester, New Hampshire. Call us at 603-841-3080, or email us with a description of how you were injured.
Compensatory damages may be sought in wrongful death cases, as well.