What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are a form of monetary punishment for the defendant. The punitive damages are generally awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages and are intended to discourage the guilty party from engaging in the type of conduct that led to the lawsuit in question. This type of compensation is rather rare and is only available in certain circumstances such as the need to set a public example.

Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, refer to the need to punish the defendant and deter him and others from the conduct that gave rise to the lawsuit. Punitive damages are extremely rare but are available in appropriate circumstances. They are neither economic nor non-economic damages, as they are not awarded to compensate any loss. They are often granted for the purpose of setting a public example. In Miami, Florida, plaintiffs may receive punitive damage awards in two particular circumstances, they must be able to prove that gross negligence or intentional misconduct occurred.

The amount of punitive damages is left to the jury's judgment. In most states, the jury is informed to look for both objective and subjective factors. They include:

  • The harmfulness of the defendant's misconduct 
  • The amount of punitive damages that would deter the defendant based on the defendant's wealth
  • The nature of the plaintiff's injury

In most states, punitive damages are awarded not only for actual malice but also when the defendant's actions are willful, oppressive, fraudulent, or reckless. For example, punitive damages may be awarded in a product liability case when the defendant is a corporate manufacturer of personal hygiene products that not only mass-distributed a potentially fatal product but also failed to warn consumers about dangers it was well aware of.

Financial compensation for punitive damages can be a complex aspect of your case. Miami personal injury lawyer Sean M. Cleary has a vast experience in product liability cases and if you contact our law firm we can provide all the legal advice and help you need.  

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.