An Overview of Punitive Damages in Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Punitive damages can be part of any injury claim. Punitive damages are not awarded to compensate victims, but are awarded to punish the defendant for their gross, reckless, and wanton behavior. Punitive damages are typically only awarded in extreme cases, making them more of a rarity in personal injury law. Indiana has a state statute that requires 75% of any punitive damage award go to the state and the remaining 25% go to the injured victim.
Punitive Damages Definition
Punitive damages can be best understood as separate damages paid as a result of especially harmful behavior, specifically to punish the defendant for their actions. As a result, calculation of these damages isn’t based upon medical expenses, lost wages, or other common compensation awarded in a case but are determined by the jury overseeing the trial.
The purpose of understanding punitive damages in this way is to discourage future misconduct on the part of the defendant.
How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?
The process of determining punitive damages depends on a variety of factors, and typically there is no limit to the amount for punitive damages. Often, several elements must be present before punitive damages are even considered, including:
- Other Damages Awarded – Punitive damages are never awarded on their own. The plaintiff must first be awarded other damages before punitive damages are considered.
- Expectations of Behavior – Negligence or accidental incidents aren’t subject to punitive damages. Instead, there must be intentional, willful, wanton and/or gross recklessness proven.
- Amount is Relatively Proportionate – While there is no formula to figure out how punitive damages are calculated, previous punitive damages examples reveal that they are typically proportionate to other damages awarded in the case.
- Applicable to Acts That Harm the Plaintiff – In most cases, punitive damages are only awarded for acts that cause direct injury to the plaintiff.
Blackburn and Green Provides the Assistance You Need
If you aren’t sure whether or not punitive damages will be an issue in your personal injury case, the attorneys at Blackburn and Green can help. We limit our practice to personal injury and wrongful death law, giving us the ability to execute your case with compassion and professionalism.
Contact us today for more information about punitive damages law or any other questions you may have about a personal injury or wrongful death claim.