All About Punitive Damages In Personal Injury Cases

20 April 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog

If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, then you should do your best to get compensated for all the possible damages. For example, you shouldn't forget about punitive damages, which many people don't know about.

What Are They, and What Are Their Purpose?

Punitive damages are awarded not as compensation to an injury victim, but rather as a punishment for their behavior. There are three main reasons why punitive damages may be awarded, and they include:

  • To punish the defendant for their bad behavior
  • To warn others about committing the same dangerous acts
  • To boost the victim's settlement if the judge doesn't think it's enough to compensate for the defendant's bad behavior

When Are They Awarded?

Punitive damages are usually awarded if the defendant's actions are more than ordinary negligence. This means it is usually awarded if the defendant's actions are considered to have been intentional or particularly reckless.

Examples of Injuries That May Attract Punitive Damages

To better understand why and when punitive damages may be awarded, here are a few examples of injury claims that may attract punitive damages:

  • A medical malpractice case involving a surgeon who operated on the wrong part of the body because they were intoxicated
  • A toy manufacturer who knowingly sells dangerous toys and tries to hide the danger from its consumers
  • A nightclub bouncer who attacks a revelry and breaks their arm because the reveler turned down their amorous advances

The Controversy

As an injury victim, you will probably be doing everything in your power to get the defendant punished so that you can get punitive damages. However, not everyone is sold on the idea of awarding punitive damages. The main reason why some people think punitive damages is unfair is that their award damages leave the victim in a better condition than they were in before the accident. Opponents of punitive damages claim that those who are injured in an accident should only get an exact amount of settlement that is enough to restore them to their previous position, and nothing more.

As a result, states have come up with different ways of handling punitive damages, and they include:

  • Placing limits on punitive damages
  • Limiting the types of injuries that attract punitive damages
  • Directing judges and jurors to award "reasonable" punitive damages considering the facts of the case

Do you have an injury case that you think deserves punitive damages? Talk to a personal injury lawyer today for this and other forms of injury damages.