Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Being involved in a personal injury case can be a confusing and frustrating experience. There are so many moving parts and legal terms that it’s hard to keep track of everything. One term you may have heard thrown around is “punitive damages.”
You may be entitled to punitive damages if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence. An experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney will guide you through every step of your case and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
But what are they? Do you need them? How do you get them? Let’s break it down.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages also called “exemplary damages,” are awarded in addition to compensatory damages in a personal injury case.
Compensatory damages are meant to make the plaintiff “whole again.” This means reimbursing them for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. For example, if someone is texting and driving when they hit your child, compensatory damages might pay for the trip to the emergency room, medical treatment and medication, lost wages for the time you had to miss at work, or visits to a child psychologist needed to help your child recover fully.
Punitive damages would go above and beyond compensatory damages in an attempt to punish the driver and prevent another accident in the future.
They are designed to punish the defendant for their actions and deter them (and others) from acting similarly in the future. Seeking punitive damages is not greedy; in many ways, it is a public service to prevent future harm to people in your community.
One example might be if someone allows a dog with a history of vicious behavior to run loose and attacks someone. Another example might be a business that knew its product was defective but continued to sell it anyway, leading to injury or even death. You read about these cases often. One you may remember is when Phillips-Morris had to pay $28 billion in damages to a woman whose inoperable cancer was caused by tobacco.
Although the legal procedures and requirements to win each type of damage are different, they are closely intertwined. An Easton personal injury attorney would help you with the legal requirements to get both compensation and punitive damages.
Awarding Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are not awarded in every personal injury case. For punitive damages to be awarded, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions were either intentional, malicious, or reckless. For example, if someone were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and hit you, they would likely be ordered to pay punitive damages on top of compensatory damages.
Limits and Caps for Punitive Damages
In Pennsylvania, there is no cap on punitive damages. This means the sky’s the limit regarding how much money you can be awarded. More practically, huge punitive damages in PA are unusual, but they are awarded in the right circumstances. That’s why you need an Easton personal injury attorney who will fight to protect your rights and get the best settlement possible.
Being injured due to someone else’s negligence is never easy. Along with physical pain and emotional suffering, you may also be wondering how you will pay your mounting medical bills and lost wages. Thankfully, Pennsylvania law provides for punitive damages in some instances of negligence.
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a highly skilled personal injury attorney Easton PA at Sharma Law Office today to discuss your case. We’ll look at your case and explain ways you might proceed.