By Osborne & Francis
July 21, 2022

What Are Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

When you suffer an injury that is a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you may be entitled to recover specific types of damages in the form of financial compensation. There are different types of damages, and there are different guidelines that are followed for each when they are awarded to someone in a personal injury lawsuit. Punitive damages are not always sought by personal injury lawyers or awarded, but in some cases, they may be deemed appropriate.

Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Damages that are awarded in personal injury cases fall into categories, that sometimes overlap. While some compensatory damages may also be called economic damages, the categories are typically broken down as follows:

Economic Damages – These types of damages are financial losses and are sometimes referred to as actual damages. They include the expenses the injured person had as a result of the injuries he or she sustained. For example, medical bills lost wages, and the expenses of repairing or replacing damaged property.

Non-Economic Damages – These damages involve losses that have had a negative effect on the injured party but can’t be assigned a specific dollar value. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are designed to be a punishment to the party whose negligence caused the injury. Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant’s actions (or inactions) are found to have been exceptionally reckless or malicious.

Understanding Punitive DamagesUnlike economic and non-economic damages, which are meant to make an injured person whole financially, punitive damages are meant to punish, or penalize, the responsible party for the behavior that is tied to the injury. In some cases, the injured person is able to seek punitive damages when the defendant is found to have been intentional, reckless, malicious, or grossly negligent.

For an individual to be found grossly negligent, it must be proven that he or she demonstrated a conscious indifference or disregard for another person’s safety, rights, or life. It is quite different from regular negligence, which is usually defined as a breach of a general duty to act with reasonable care, in that it adds the element of recklessness.

In a personal injury case, there must be a reasonable basis for an injured person to ask for punitive damages. If there isn’t evidence that supports gross negligence or intentional behavior, then the injured person and his or her lawyer may be subject to sanctions assigned by the court. This helps prevent frivolous lawsuits from being filed.

Some states place limitations, or caps, on how much an injured person can be awarded for punitive damages. In Florida, the limit is three times the amount of the economic and non-economic damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured as a result of someone’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Boca’s prominent personal injury attorney, Joe Osborne, can help you determine the best way to proceed with your case. Contact him today at (561) 293-2600, to get started on your case. Don’t delay, you have a limited amount of time in which to file your claim.

E. Holland

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!

J. Davis

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer/ firm — everything was done professionally exactly how I wanted. Due to COVID my personal attorney Mr. Garcia was still able to make things work in a timely manner and he never made me feel like he wasn’t working. Overall I’m happy with how my case turned out and I would recommend him and this law firm to anyone. 100% satisfied.”

C. Smith

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

Alfred

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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

Erica F.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

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