The majority of personal injury claims center on compensatory damages, which are intended to pay for the victim’s injuries as well as any associated medical bills, property damage, or other expenses. But on rare occasions, a victim of personal injury may be able to seek both compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Punitive damages are typically awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful or even deadly.
For example, a construction worker may be eligible to receive punitive damages if they can show that a workplace accident was caused by their employer’s violation of safety regulations. Though workers’ compensation protects employers from lawsuits resulting from on-the-job injuries, they are not entirely immune from personal injury claims that seek full damages if the injury was caused by gross negligence or a breach of safety standards.
Additionally, punitive damages may be granted in some product liability cases. The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) lists numerous products as having known defects, however, when a victim is harmed while using a particular product, a claim may be filed. No matter the reason, experienced legal representation is crucial when claiming punitive damages.
Punitive damages cases are frequently settled through litigation and necessitate extensive research and analysis by an experienced legal professional. If you seek to file a lawsuit that includes punitive damages in Florida, it’s important to speak with a team like ours.
Punitive Damages Under Florida Law
In Florida, a court will only award punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were intentional or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are defined in Florida Statute § 768.72, which states “a defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the trier of fact, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”
Intentional misconduct refers to, “the defendant was aware of the wrongfulness and the high probability that his conduct would result in injury or damage to the claimant and, yet, deliberately pursued that course of conduct that resulted in that injury or damage.” Fla. Stat. § 768.72(2)(a). Gross negligence refers to behavior that is so negligent or reckless that the defendant disregards the rights, safety, or life of those who are involved. In the state of Florida, punitive awards are subject to maximum allowances and cases should be handled by a skilled attorney.
Punitive Damage Limits
The maximum amount of punitive damage awards that claimants may be awarded has been explicitly set by Florida. The limit varies according to the maximum compensatory damages that may be awarded, the amount can be up to 3 times the amount of the compensatory damages, or $500,000 — whichever is higher. Special and general damages for long-term pain and suffering are used to calculate compensatory damages, which are then multiplied based on the level of carelessness in the case. To receive the maximum compensation, your attorney must present the evidence within the parameters of the statute.
This means that you want an attorney who is knowledgeable about the restrictions imposed by Florida law and who will aggressively seek out the highest amount of compensation.
Punitive damages are different from a typical injury claim. Florida’s courts have strict standards for when to grant punitive damages to a plaintiff. The personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Leonard J. Valdes can assist you in putting together a case to help get the compensation you deserve after an accident. Schedule your consultation today.