New Hampshire state laws and federal laws maintain several statutes relevant to victim’s rights and compensation after an injury. However, in the criminal trial process, New Hampshire’s victims’ compensation program rarely provides victims and families with the financial assistance they require after an injury or accident. Although no amount of money can ever fully compensate a victim or their loved one after a serious accident, the state’s civil compensation laws can help a New Hampshire accident victim work towards becoming whole again.
After an accident, a New Hampshire injury victim can recover general and economic damages. Damages usually involve losses related to medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. General damages refer to intangible losses that result because of another’s negligence. These damages typically include losses related to emotional distress, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, permanent physical disabilities, and reduced quality of life. In contrast, economic damages are tangible losses related to the costs associated with home or personal care, past and prospective medical expenses, loss of wages, and reduced lifelong earning capacity.
Many states maintain punitive damages statutes that work to compensate victims in cases where the defendant acted with malice or egregiously. New Hampshire courts have a long-standing history of refusing to award punitive damages, and essentially outlawed these damages in 2015. In addressing the public’s concern that there are situations where these awards are necessary, the state offers enhanced compensatory damages instead of punitive damages. The doctrine allows courts to award supplemental or enhanced damages when the defendant’s conduct was “wanton, malicious, or oppressive.” These damages undergo a detailed case-by-case analysis, and plaintiffs should retain an attorney to ensure that they appropriately present a compelling case for enhanced compensatory damages.