In West Palm Beach, Florida, punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff when the defendant’s conduct is malicious or outrageous. These awards are designed to punish defendants and discourage them from committing wrongful acts in the future. But you have to prove that they were negligent or otherwise liable for your injuries before collecting punitive damage awards. And that’s where legal representation comes in. You want to sift through the personal injury lawyer options to find someone with the experience, qualifications, and a shiny track record.
How Are Punitive Damages Awarded?
In some states, the law specifies a dollar amount of punitive damages in specific cases, but Florida is not one of those states. Here, the jury awards these amounts on their own terms and at their discretion.
The most important thing for you as a plaintiff is to qualify your claim with sufficient evidence against the defendant’s wrongdoing or liability. You have to be able to prove your injury, the defendant’s negligence, and then show an outrageous nature of the conduct.
If you can’t prove these things with evidence in court, punitive damages are not available as a remedy. But if you do have sufficient documentation on hand, a jury can award you punitive damages. They may also add any other remedies they might see fit.
Requirements For Punitive Damages
To receive punitive damage awards, you will need to provide substantial documentation like police reports, witness statements, and hospital bills, that all point to outrageous or malicious activity from the defendant.
Generally speaking, malicious means deliberate and done with intent to harm, and outrageous means extremely bad in degree or extent.
If you can prove either one of these things in court, the juries are likely going to give out punitive damage awards with no further thought.
Is There A Difference Between Punitive And Compensatory Damages?
The compensatory damages are meant to make up for any losses or injuries caused by a defendant. These can be money paid out in a settlement agreement, but also be non-monetary, such as pain and suffering experienced during treatment or recovery from an injury.
The punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and discourage them from committing wrongful acts in the future. And, these can be compensation for monetary or non-monetary damages as well.
Punitive Damage Limitations
Punitive damage awards are subject to limitations. You just can’t go around suing people anytime you feel like it and expect an award. For example, Florida has a statute of limitations for the filing of lawsuits that require expert testimony, and these are limited to six years from when the injury occurred or three years after you discovered there was an injury. The amount allowed as punitive damages cannot exceed up to five times the award for compensatory damages in any civil action.
If you have a potential claim for punitive damages in Florida, don’t wait to let your lawyer know what happened and how it affected your life. That’s because the statute of limitations may run out in your case before you even realize it!
An Example Of Punitive Damage Awards
Here’s an example of punitive damage awards that happened in Florida this past year.
A jury awarded a woman who was raped by her priest when she was 14 and then had to live with the memory for years without confronting it, according to press reports—$100 million in punitive damages as well as $15.65 million in compensatory damages were filed against the Roman Catholic Church.
This woman’s case is a perfect example of the kind of situations in which punitive damages are awarded because her rapist had to be punished. However, there were no other methods for holding him accountable since he was dead already.
Another good example is when a company intentionally sells a faulty product, intending to make more money. This product then causes serious injury or death and the company has to be punished. But, these types of cases are hard to prove. And the company also comes with a lot of money to defend themselves, which is why it’s important for you to contact a lawyer right away if you think that this may apply in your case.
That said, punitive damage awards are difficult to come by, but they can make a big impact on your life if you’re able to prove that someone was at fault for your injuries. So it’s important to find an attorney who specializes in these types of cases so that you can get the help you need.