What Are Punitive Damages and Will They Be Awarded in My Case?
Posted on November 18, 2018
Following an accident, of course, you will typically be permitted to bring a claim for a variety of damages, such as payment for your medical bills after you have sustained serious injuries, lost wages from missed time at work, and a variety of emotional suffering damages that you might have sustained. In some cases, you might also find that you are eligible for something known as ‘punitive’ damages, which work a bit differently under the law. What are these damages and when will they play a role in your case?
What Punitive Damages Are
Punitive damages are different from any other type of damages that you might expect to receive in your case. They are awarded to punish the behavior of another party that was especially reckless in nature or caused dangers to those around them. This would be especially true in a case where a driver struck you as a pedestrian and then fled the scene in their vehicle without stopping to check on you, such as in a hit-and-run. The driver made the conscious and reckless decision to flee the scene. Punitive damages are not necessarily meant to compensate you, but just to deter other people from engaging in the same conduct. Otherwise, they would fall under the same category as your regular compensatory damages.
The court will look at a variety of elements when they want to make the determination of whether or not you will receive punitive damages. For instance, if you want to qualify for punitive damages, you will first have to be given compensatory damages or else you won’t qualify, as these types of damages are never awarded on their own. The defendant must have also acted in a manner that was not only negligent but also intentional or malicious in nature. If you have been harmed through another party’s acts and you believe that the defendant acted in a completely reckless manner, there is a good chance you might qualify.
Will There be Limits?
Punitive damages are calculated in a certain way that involves calculating the number of compensatory damages and then applying twice or three times as much to come up with the right number for punitive damages. Calculations are done in a fair manner in many cases because, though they are meant to punish, the legal system does not want to abuse the system and make it extremely unfair. This is why you will typically find that there are “caps” in these cases.
Many states cap the number of punitive damages that you could be awarded in your case so that the system can stay fair and plaintiffs will not be able to seek extreme amounts of damages for wrongful acts, leading to predictability in the entire system.
Do you believe that the defendant in your case acted in an especially reckless fashion and now you wonder if you will qualify for these special types of damages that can help you get back on your feet when you need them the most? Luckily, at Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, we understand how important your case is to you and want to help you receive the compensation you are entitled to during this difficult time. Do not hesitate to call us today for more information on your claim at 304-431-4050.
Note: Secondary sources were used to create this piece and, because of this, the information included has not been independently verified. If you notice a factual issue with our posting, please bring it to our attention and we will correct or remove it as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: Our intent in these posts it to bring attention to the dangers members in our community face and to encourage caution. Accidents do happen and we hope these posts help those affected. However, this information should not be misconstrued as legal or medical advice, and we urge you to contact a trained legal professional for more information regarding your specific situation.