If a person believes they have a personal injury case, they may wonder if they can get punitive damages. A punitive award punishes a defendant for their actions and it deters them from doing it again. These damages are different from the compensatory type, which compensate a plaintiff for their physical injuries and economic losses. Compensatory damages are typically awarded in personal injury cases, and courts must decide whether a punitive award is appropriate.
Awarding Punitive Damages
Not every case is eligible for punitive damages, and courts must analyze claims thoroughly. A defendant’s egregious conduct can leave them open to a punitive damage case, and courts look for these elements before making an award.
* A plaintiff must be eligible for other types of damages before receiving a punitive award.
* The defendant’s conduct must have been purposeful or malicious, rather than merely negligent.
* Punitive damages must be given in an amount proportionate to the actual loss. Excessive awards are unconstitutional.
The act must have directly harmed the plaintiff.
A plaintiff can only get punitive damages if all of these criteria are met. Courts can face significant challenges in determining the proportionality of a potential settlement.
Calculating Punitive Damages
There’s no real cap for the issuance of punitive damages, but that does not mean that a plaintiff can ask for an unlimited amount. Case law provides guidelines on the calculation of punitive damages relative to the compensatory type, and methods vary by jurisdiction.
Courts consider several other factors when determining punitive damages. The nature of the defendant’s behavior is important; a particularly malicious action will bring a higher award. The difference between the plaintiff’s harm and the amount of damages requested also plays a role, as do award amounts from similar cases.
Hire an Attorney
A person considering the request of punitive damages should talk to QBS Law S.C. to hire a personal injury attorney in Beaver Dam, WI. As was mentioned above, these damages can only be awarded in conjunction with other types of damages. A personal injury attorney in Beaver Dam, WI can help clients prove the merits of their case.