When it comes to civil lawsuits, or torts, the compensation a victim can expect equals what is called compensatory damages. This means the victim is eligible to receive the exact amount of the damages they are claiming to have incurred. In other cases, the court may decide to award an additional sum of money to the plaintiff. This form of damage is known as punitive. This type of award is far from common but can be necessary in some cases. Read on for a better understanding of how a punitive award could benefit not just a victim but thousands of others.
If you are hit by a careless driver and file suit against them, you are entitled to be paid compensatory damages. If you add up the sums of money owed to you for your wrecked car, medical treatment costs, lost wages, loss of consortium, and emotional damage, you would arrive at the sum of money owed for compensatory damages.
A personal injury lawsuit asks to be paid compensatory damages — that is the main point of the case. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are not mentioned in the lawsuit and are not part of a court case. Instead, the judge and jury determine the need for and the amount of any punitive damages. Another important aspect that sets punitive awards apart from compensatory is the limit. In compensatory damages, the jury is instructed to ignore the ability of the defendant to pay. With punitive damages, the financial ability of the defendant to pay is taken into consideration. This type of award is not appropriate for all cases, however.
Egregious and Willful Harm
Punitive awards are usually reserved for cases where the plaintiff is well-known or the harm done is judged to be particularly malicious or reckless. Some examples of possible punitive damages are:
The point of a punitive award is to set an example and to warn others. If you have been harmed by a person or business with deep pockets, speak to a personal injury attorney about your case right away. While no attorney can guarantee you punitive damages, certain cases bear more potential for that eventuality.
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