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Most injury victims file lawsuits in order to recover what they have lost as the result of an accident, including compensation for pain and suffering. But if the person responsible for the injury has been extremely reckless, New York law also allows the court to punish them by forcing them to pay a significant amount of money in punitive damages.

Punitive damages are given for the sole purpose of punishing the defendant and to discourage similar conduct in the future. These damages are given in addition to the victim’s economic losses, and the exact amount awarded is decided by the judge or jury. While punitive damages in personal injury cases are relatively rare, you could stand to recover a substantial amount of compensation if they are available in your case.

When Construction Accidents Could Qualify Victims for Punitive Damages

Punitive damages in a personal injury claim can vastly outweigh the amount of a victim’s compensatory damages. For this reason, New York courts generally only award punitive damages in situations involving extreme or immoral conduct. In other words, the defendant is not only negligent, but they were also actively placing workers at unnecessary risk and were willfully indifferent to the consequences.

Contractors, site owners, and other parties may be liable for punitive damages under New York law for actions such as:

  • Attempting to cover up illegal actions that led to injury through bribery, oppression, or fraud
  • Repeatedly breaking federal and state labor laws
  • The commission of one or more serious or violent criminal offenses
  • Negligence or corruption involving a large company where punitive damages are the only way to make the company change its ways
  • Conduct similar to an existing precedent for awarding punitive damages, or a statute specifically authorizes punitive damages

If you or a loved one has been injured at work, our New York City construction accident attorneys will work to get you the compensation you are owed, and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.


Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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