There are three types of damages that the court might award you if you win your personal injury lawsuit. There are economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. The first two are fairly well understood, but punitive damages are still shrouded in some mystery.
What It Is
Unlike other damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate an injury victim for their losses. Rather, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their action or inaction and to discourage the public from similar actions. In some states, the government splits punitive damages with the accident victim because the damages are not compensatory.
When It Applies
Not every personal injury case deserve punitive damages award; it applies to only a few cases. Here are some of the cases where punitive damages are likely.
Some states have laws that require punitive damages in some injury cases. Thus, if your state has such laws and your injury case falls in such a category, then you will get punitive damages if you win your case.
Gross negligence is conduct that shows total disregard or indifference to the public. For example, a driver that decides to drive over the speed limit while ignoring traffic lights is grossly negligent since they don't care what they may do to other road users. If such a driver causes an accident, the victims of the accident may be awarded punitive damages.
Lastly, you may also get punitive damages if the defendant's actions were intentional. For example, if a driver intentional rams into your car during a road rage incident, you may receive punitive damages as part of the accident compensation.
Since punitive damages are not based on losses, there is a risk that judges or juries can award huge punitive damages that may even exceed the other damages. Some states consider that wrong and have come up with limits to punitive damages.
There are federal as well as state limits to punitive damages. For example, Missouri limits its punitive damages to $500,000 or five times the actual damages, whichever is higher. The federal government, however, limits punitive damages to ten times the actual damages. Thus, if your actual damages total to $2,000,000, the federal government limits your punitive damages to $20,000,000.
Even though you should include all damages in your personal injury case, you are not entirely sure of how much you will receive if you win your case. However, you can be sure that a personal injury lawyer can help you maximize your recovery. For more information on punitive damages, reach out to a personal injury lawyer, such as those at Maruca Law.Share
27 May 2019
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