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Why Would You Want to File for Punitive Damages?

In personal injury cases and other lawsuits, winning plaintiffs can be awarded financial compensation to cover things like medical bills, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. 

But sometimes, defendants who are found guilty can be ordered to pay the legal recompense of punitive damages on top of the compensatory damages. 

Let us look at why you would want to file for punitive damages. 

Why are punitive damages awarded?

Courts of law award punitive damages when the compensation is deemed insufficient. The plaintiff will receive all or some of the punitive damages. 

However, the main purpose of filing for punitive damages is actually to punish guilty defendants whose conduct is intentional or grossly negligent. 

Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages punish the at-fault party to deter the guilty party and others from performing the same actions or conducting themselves in the same way.

Quite simply, punitive damages are filed to punish guilty defendants and make an example of them. 

Punitive Damages Requirements

Punitive damages can be awarded in various types of cases. Still, they are most commonly awarded for personal injury cases, such as slips and falls or car accidents that are the fault of another party.  

When you hire personal injury lawyers, they will be able to inform you of your legal options and give you more information about whether to file for punitive damages or not. 

For punitive damages to be awarded, the court must consider several factors. Most importantly, the court will assess whether the defendant’s actions were intentional, malicious, or grossly negligent. If they were, punitive damages would likely be awarded. 

The other important thing that the court looks at is similar historical cases to see whether punitive damages were awarded in those cases. 

Also, be aware that different states in the U.S. have varying criteria for awarding punitive damages, and some states are more likely to award the damages than others. 

How much can plaintiffs be awarded? 

If you are filing for punitive damages, you will want to know how much you could potentially be awarded. 

The Supreme Court sets out the guidelines for calculating punitive damages. While there is no maximum sum for the pay-out amount, punitive damages do not typically exceed more than four times the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. 

So, if the plaintiff is awarded $50,000 in compensation, the punitive damages that are awarded would be up to $200,000. 

However, there are exceptions. Higher punitive damages could be awarded if the amounts awarded in other cases were higher, if the harm suffered by the plaintiff is considered to be more than the requested punitive damages, or if the guilty defendant’s actions were particularly reprehensible. 

Also, in cases where injuries require continuous care, non-economic harm is challenging to calculate, or the guilty defendant’s conduct is incredibly offensive, greater amounts of punitive damages could be awarded. 

So, why should you file for punitive damages?

Your lawyer will know whether your individual case warrants pursuing punitive damages or not. 

Punitive damages are filed to punish guilty defendants or exemplify them. 

As the victim, you could want to see the guilty party punished and make an example. In turn, that could prevent others from taking the same actions. 

Of course, filing for punitive damages also gives you more financial compensation. 

Filing for punitive damages is all about justice.

Featured Image by Ezequiel Octaviano from Pixabay