Punitive Damages In Personal Injury Suits: A Primer

In personal injury cases, there are a host of different types of damages for which you can be awarded, if you, the plaintiff, so happen to win a case. Among the most common types of damages are medical damages, psychological or emotional trauma damages, and "pain and suffering" damages. In some states, you may be awarded what are referred to as "punitive damages." This brief guide will explain some of the ins and outs of punitive damages to you.

What Is The Definition of Punitive Damages?

Although most damages are awarded to you, as the plaintiff, some are based on a correspondence between the harm that has befallen you and a monetary amount that has been assigned to that harm (punitive damages differ in kind). Punitive damages refer to a monetary amount that is awarded to you in order to punish the defendant. More often than not, punitive damages are invoked in order to curb the defendant from acting in such a way that will cause another person harm due to the same behavior. But these damages are not awarded in every state.

In What Cases Can You Be Awarded Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are to be decided by the court and, as aforementioned, are not rewarded in every state. Punitive damages are generally awarded to the plaintiff whenever the defendant's actions can be considered to be motivated by gross negligence. Gross negligence itself is a bit nebulous to define, but it tends to mean that the defendant willfully neglected a law or set of rules that led to the plaintiff's injuries. One of the most blatant examples of gross negligence is the notion of a reckless driver. A reckless driver willfully ignores posted speed limits and signage. If they cause a wreck and that accident goes to trial under the category of a personal injury trial, the plaintiff could be awarded damages due to the fact that, although not intended, their reckless behavior ultimately caused the accident.

Are There Limits That Can Be Set On Punitive Damages?

There are limits which can be set to the maximum amount of punitive damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff, although these limits are set by the state. In some states, for example, you cannot be awarded more than the grand total of the other damages which you received. Your personal injury attorney should know the specifics regarding the cap your state sets on punitive damages.

For more information, contact professionals like Kidwell & Gallagher LTD.