The What, Why, and How of Punitive Damages

4 min read

Personal injury law allows victims to claim compensation for the losses they incur as a result of accidents. Victims should file a claim and prove the elements of personal injury law to obtain compensation. The following are the elements victims need to prove Punitive Damages

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Causation
  • Damages

If you are a victim, remember that these are not easy to prove. You will need the help of experienced personal injury lawyers.

Visit Helping Injured People to learn what kind of evidence you will need and how a lawyer can help you collect it.

Types of Damages You Can Claim

In personal injury claims, you can claim three types of damages, which are:

  • Economic damages
  • Non-economic damages
  • Punitive damages

The first two types of damages are known as compensatory damages, which are issued to compensate the victim’s losses.

Punitive damage is entirely different from compensatory damage.

What is Punitive Damage?

Punitive damages are damages issued to punish the defendant rather than compensate the victim. Punitive damages are only awarded in rare cases. The amount will be decided by the judge.

Why Punitive Damages are Awarded?

Punitive damages are not awarded in all cases. It is issued only after careful consideration by the judge. Punitive damages can be awarded in the following cases:

  • Punishment: Punitive damages are usually issued to punish the defendant for their negligence. When the action of the defendant is egregious, the judge will issue punitive damages
  • Deterrence: Another reason for issuing punitive damages is to deter the negligent party from engaging in such behaviors. When seeing huge sums being issued as fines for a particular behavior, others will also not engage in them
  • Sense of justice: Punishing the defendant can give a sense of justice to the victim. This is important in cases where the victim is badly harmed by the defendant’s action

How Are Punitive Damages Determined and Awarded?

The criteria for punitive damages can vary by jurisdiction. However, the following are some of the standard criteria for punitive damages:

  • Financial status: The financial status of the defendant will be taken into account. The court will issue a fine that will not make the defendant go bankrupt
  • Proportionality: The punitive damages awarded should be proportional to the defendant’s negligence. Judges and juries will be very careful in not issuing damages more than the defendant’s level of negligence
  • Legal standards: In some jurisdictions, punitive damages have a cap. Limits on punitive damages exist to protect defendants from excessive damage.

The Importance of a Lawyer

Claiming punitive damages is much more complex than claiming compensatory damages. You need to know the ins and outs of personal injury law.

In some cases, you may not be allowed to claim punitive damages. Only a lawyer will know when to claim punitive damages.

Another reason why punitive damages are complex to claim is that you can only claim them when your case is in court.

Court cases are very hard to win. Even a minor mistake can make you lose the case. Only an experienced lawyer can guide you through the complex legal process of a personal injury lawsuit.

When hiring a lawyer, look for lawyers who have courtroom experience. Most personal injury cases do not go to court. Only 4% of personal injury cases go to court.

Final Thoughts

Claiming punitive damages is hard but necessary in some cases. Only by punishing the defendant can we build a safer society. Punishing the defendant will deter the defendant and others from engaging in negligent behavior.

A lawyer is a must to obtain punitive damages. They will know when to claim punitive damages and analyze whether the awarded amount is fair or not.

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