There are a variety of damages that may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit, and while most are meant to compensate the plaintiff for damages they have suffered as a result of their injury there can be extra damages that are awarded when the defendant’s behavior is determined to be especially negligent. Oftentimes these awards are called punitive or exemplary damages.
But what are punitive or exemplary damages? These are damages that are going to exceed simple compensation for the client and are awarded to punish the defendant. Whether punitive damages apply to your personal injury claim will depend on several factors and you can talk to your personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX such as the ones available at Zaid Law Offices to find out if punitive damages will be awarded in your claim.
The main difference between punitive damages and compensatory damages is that compensatory damages which are also cut actual damages are the center of every personal injury claim and likely do not change between claims. Essentially actual damages are awarded to plaintiffs to compensate for damages, injuries and other losses that you have received as a result of negligence of another party during an accident or something else that is led to injuries.
Compensatory damages can include nearly anything, and personal injury cases these are often seen as medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain-and-suffering, and mental distress. The general idea is to collect any damages necessary to make the plaintiff whole even if these damages do not necessarily have a predetermined dollar amount tied to them.
On the other hand, punitive damages are not meant to give the plaintiff back something that was lost, instead they are to punish the defendant for their conduct as well as the terse American duck from other people. This is an example to society that the behavior of the defendant will not be tolerated and is used to create an example of someone.
Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant causes an accident , especially in a reckless or negligent way, however there are going to be legal criteria that must be met before the plaintiff can receive these damages. The plaintiff has to first demonstrate that the actual damages occurred, has been above they would do this through medical bills, pain-and-suffering or lost wages. If there are no actual damages awarded then punitive damages cannot occur. The plaintiff must also demonstrate that the defendant acted with gross negligence such as hating or conducting themselves in a way that a reasonable person in the same situation will not of known or involved in same degree of risk, and that the defendant knew the rest acted with disregard to their own safety as well as others.
An example of punitive damages in a very common case is drunk driving accidents. When a drunk driving accident occurs the plaintiff can argue that a regional person is going to understand the extreme degree of risk driving drunk involves and that the drunk driver got behind the will despite being aware of those risks.