In defective products cases in New Jersey, the law allows for the injured party to recover for pain and suffering, medical bills, and time lost from work. However, in some cases, punitive damages may be awarded.
Under New Jersey defective product liability law, punitive damages serve a dual purpose - punish the defendant/company for particular conduct and deter that party from engaging in that kind of behavior in the future.
These kinds of damages are not routinely awarded. Instead, they are reserved for cases in which there is especially egregious or outrageous behavior.
To support a claim of punitive damages under New Jersey product liability law, the injured party/plaintiff must show the following:
1. plaintiff's injury resulted from the defendant's acts or omissions, and
2. defendant acted with malice or wanton and willful disregard of the plaintiff.
New Jersey courts define malice as an intentional act or failure to act in the sense of an evil-minded act (i.e., lying to or tricking FDA inspectors). Willful or wanton conduct is defined as an intentional act or failure to act with knowledge that there is a high degree of probability of harm to another person (i.e., failing to issue product recalls or otherwise failing to warn of a dangerous product). Most successful punitive damage claims against companies result from showing willfull or wanton conduct.
However, proof of the kinds of acts or omissions which rise to the level of being malicious, willful or wanton does not come easily, and this is one reason why punitive damages are not awarded as a matter of course in every defective product case.
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If you or a loved one was injured by a dangerous or defective product and would like to discuss your legal rights, contact an experienced PA & NJ products liability lawyer for a free consultation at 877.944.8396. Our products lawyers have helped many people who were injured by dangerous, defective products. In addition, our firm has the resources to prosecute these complex cases.
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