What are Punitive Damages in Personal injury?

As personal injury lawyers in Tampa, we know it’s a sensitive time in your life. You’re dealing with the after-effects of your accident and maintaining a sense of normalcy all while trying to recover the monetary damages that are rightly yours. 

We get it and that’s why our team’s committed to walking you through every step of the personal injury process from start to finish.

Even though you’ll have our support, we believe knowledge is power, and that’s why we share blogs like these to help you better understand personal injury law. 

Just like in any industry, there are terms that are commonly used and in today’s blog post, we’re covering one of them – punitive damages. 

What are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages, sometimes called “exemplary damages,” are meant to penalize the defendant and discourage others from participating in similar, negligent conduct in the future. 

Compensation for these cases goes beyond the actual losses and is intended to serve as a form of punishment for the defendant. 

Punitive damages are commonly awarded when a defendant’s actions are found to be especially harmful and in some cases, are in addition to compensatory damages. 

Driving while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs, as well as driving while distracted from using a cellphone, are common examples of cases where punitive damages could apply.

How are Punitive Damages Awarded in Florida?

In order for punitive damages to be awarded in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court (W.R. Grace v. Waters (1994), says that the defendant’s actions must be “fraudulent, malicious, deliberately violent or oppressive, or committed with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard for the rights of others.” 

Simply put, in order to award punitive damages, it must be proven that the defendant’s actions were a result of either:

  • Intentional misconduct is when the defendant was aware their actions were wrong and dangerous and could cause injury. 
  • Gross negligence is a total lack of care for the safety of others. 

Do you have a personal injury case? We’re here to help. 

At Cappy Law, our team of skilled personal injury lawyers has the experience and expertise to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Contact us today and book your free case evaluation.