What Are Often Called Punitive Damages?

Often Called Punitive Damages

A court may award punitive damages as a way to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. These damages are often much higher than compensatory damages and can be ten times the initial awarded amount.

These damages are not based on actual loss but rather on the defendant’s gross negligence. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant by making them suffer financial loss in addition to any physical injury. The hope is that the defendant will learn from the experience and not engage in similar conduct in the future.

The type of misconduct that results in a punitive damages award can vary widely from case to case and will depend on state law and court precedents. The most common reason that a punitive damage award is given is when the defendant’s actions are egregious and demonstrate a complete disregard for others’ safety. Examples might include a case where an apartment complex knowingly allows toddlers to play in a pool with an open gate, or when the church is aware that a clergyman is sexually abusing children and simply shuffles him from parish to parish without telling members of his past history.

There are many factors that a jury or judge will consider when determining whether to award punitive damages. The degree of culpability will often be considered as well as the defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages. The Supreme Court has noted that courts should be careful not to impose excessive punitive damages and has recommended a high standard of reprehensibility and acceptable punitive-to-compensatory damage ratios.

What Are Often Called Punitive Damages?

A plaintiff can request punitive damages by indicating them in the initial pleadings of their case or by asking for permission to seek them from a trier of fact at trial. If the jury decides that punitive damages are warranted they will be added to any compensatory awards that the plaintiff receives.

In most cases, punitive damages will not be capped by statutes or judicial precedent. However, the insurance industry has successfully lobbied to put limits on punitive damages in several states. These statutory caps have been struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

If you are a victim of a personal injury case that involves a punitive damages award, it is essential to have a legal professional on your side. A skilled attorney will be able to ensure that all necessary criteria are met in order to get you the compensation that you deserve.

The laws governing punitive damages are extremely complex and vary widely from state to state. They are typically based on statute and case law but can be highly complicated to calculate. Your legal counsel will be able to explain the relevant laws in your state and determine whether punitive damages are an appropriate award for your case. They will also be able to help you negotiate with the defendant’s attorneys to reach an agreement that is in your best interest. For more information on navigating punitive damages, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Pittsfield Firm today.

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