Understanding Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case

No matter how much you plan for things to be perfect, life rarely goes that way and we meet with unfortunate circumstances. Sometimes these circumstances are only slight and cause us inconveniences. But other times things go terribly wrong and we sustain injuries that cause us to incur large medical expenses and disrupt our lives. We may even end up with permanent diminished functions.

When these types of injuries are caused by someone else, we have an option of taking legal action against that person. There are two types of legal cases available, criminal and civil cases.

Criminal Cases – Are filed by the government and is done to punish a person or defendant for committing a crime. In a criminal case, the government must prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt which is the highest level of proof. If a defendant in a criminal case cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one to the defendant at no charge. If the defendant loses the criminal case, he or she may face jail time.

Civil Cases – Is filed when a person or entity sues another person or entity. In the case, the person injured or plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which basically means that there is a greater than fifty percent chance that the charges are true. If a defendant loses a civil case, that person will be ordered to pay damages to the plaintiff.


What is Personal Injury?

One common type of civil case is personal injury which is the legal description of a circumstance that occurs when a person is injured due to the actions of another person. These injuries can be physical or emotional and can be minor or severe. A personal injury case is filed when a person believes that these injuries occurred because the person or entity who committed them was either negligent or careless, or that they were intentionally inflicted.

Personal injury can occur anywhere. Nearly any situation can result in someone injuring someone else, so personal injury cases fit the most varied occurrences. However, slip or trip and falls, defective products, medical malpractice assaults and vehicle accidents are some of the most commonly filed personal injury lawsuits.

Personal Injury Cases are Complicated

Proving personal injury is complicated and demands a deep understanding of the law. For this reason, anyone seeking to file a personal injury case needs to hire reputable and experienced personal injury lawyers to represent them. Since the goal of a personal injury case is to receive the best settlement, the law firm needs to excel in this area.

Damages Paid in a Personal Injury Case Victory

Damages paid to plaintiffs in a personal injury case fall into two categories, compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate plaintiffs for the financial losses, and harm dome to the plaintiff. These damages are mostly straightforward and are determined by material evidence supplied by the plaintiff.

Punitive Damages are Subjective

Punitive damages may also be assessed during a personal injury case. This category of damages is introduced if the court determines that the defendant’s behavior that caused the injuries was, deplorable, or intentional. They are also designed to send a message to others that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in the community. Punitive damages are completely subjective and left to the determination of the court.

However due to the excessive amounts awarded to plaintiffs by juries, many states now limit the amount of punitive damages a jury can award a plaintiff in a personal injury case.  Punitive damages are not awarded in most personal injury cases but when they are, they are awarded in addition to compensatory damages.

The right attorney has a great influence on the amount of punitive damages his client will receive. This is another reason to hire a skilled attorney to represent you in a personal injury case.