Punitive Damages: Do You Have A Case?

  • Feb 17 2016
  • Gilleon Law Firm, APC

punitive damages, attorney san diegoBefore filing for a personal injury claim, you need to understand how damages are categorized. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Most claims qualify for compensatory damages and rarely punitive damages are claimed.

There are two reasons to claim punitive damages. First of all, the defendant should be punished for their behaviour. Secondly, other people should be deterred from taking the same action which can cause harm to someone. Punitive damages are different because they are not reimbursements for economic losses.

Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages

In a personal injury case, the possible compensatory damages are medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, property damage and pain and suffering. After calculating compensatory damages, the punitive damages are evaluated. Punitive damages are never rewarded separately and they are reimbursed on top of compensatory damages.

Qualifiers for Punitive Damages

All facts of the case and behaviour of the defendant are examined before punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff. Punitive damages are reimbursed when the defendant’s actions are believed to be at fault. There are two elements that the court looks at for determining punitive damages. First, the plaintiff should be awarded either compensatory or restitutional damages. Second, the actions of the defendant are negligent, malicious or intentional.

Calculation of Punitive Damages

The amount for punitive damages is relative in proportion to the compensatory or restitutional damages. It also depends on how serious the action was and how much harm it caused to the plaintiff. In some states, there is a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded, so be sure to check the legal limits in your state.

If you think you have a potential claim for personal injury, contact Gilleon Law Firm, APC for a free consultation.

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