Punitive damages—also known as exemplary damages—are a monetary award in civil court claims. These damages are intended to punish or deter a defendant and others from outrageous conduct. These awards are not intended to compensate, or make restitution to, a plaintiff. Nevertheless, a plaintiff typically receives money from these awards.
Are Punitive Damages Available in Your Personal Injury Claim?
Compensatory damages include money for pain, suffering and financial losses. However, sometimes these damages are insufficient. Rather, a defendant’s misconduct—even if not technically a crime—shows reckless or indifferent conduct.
In these cases, money damages awarded as compensation are simply inadequate. Why? Because there is no component to punish a defendant for his or her actions.
Punitive damages send a strong message to a defendant and our community. In other words, this wrongdoing is not acceptable and is subject to additional punishment. Accordingly, a court may permit these exemplary—an alternative name which means “example”—damages.
When Are Punitive Damages Allowable in Florida?
Punitive damages awards are above a plaintiff’s compensation. Accordingly, you receive punitive damages only in special cases where a defendant’s conduct is outrageous.
Here are some examples:
- Vehicle Accidents: DUI, drunk driving, texting and driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, reckless driving, etc.
- Deliberate Indifference: A defendant knows great risks exist, but does not take any steps to prevent harm. This is known as “willful and wanton disregard” conduct.
- Recklessness or Gross Negligence: A defendant engages in reckless behavior, such as dialing a cell phone while driving.
- Intentional Acts: A defendant intentionally harms another, including battery, fraud, abuse, etc.
- Insurance Bad Faith: An insurance company must act in best interests toward its insured (policy holder). Bad faith exists when an insurance carrier puts its own interests first.
Harris Law Fights for Punitive Damages
Exemplary damages do not apply to all personal injury or wrongful death claims. However, many claims have elements making these awards legally appropriate. Rest assured, Fort Myers personal injury lawyer David Harris pursues punitive damages for clients in all appropriate circumstances.
Have you sustained injuries and losses due to misconduct or wrongdoing? Have reckless acts, intentional misconduct, or indifference harmed you? Contact David now for your free consult. David personally discusses your claim and evaluates your circumstances. There is no obligation, so reach out now.