Guidelines And Tips On Calculating Punitive Damages

When making a personal injury claim, there are a different type of damages the injured party, or the plaintiff, can fight for. There are damages associated with financial loss and emotional distress. There are also damages intended to act as a deterrent, or punishment, for the offender.

When looking for damages intended to “teach an offender a lesson,” this type of damages is called punitive damages. They’re not available with all personal injury claims but when punitive damages are available, the purpose of them is to discourage an offender from committing a similar offense. This discouragement is usually in the form of fines.

The most common time that punitive damages are awarded is when the offender, also known as the defendant, acted intentionally, disregarding the injured party’s safety on purpose.

Calculating damages

There’s a process to calculating punitive damages. There is no hard and fast formula, but there are some guidelines that help legal professionals calculate the punitive damages that may be awarded in a personal injury claim.

Mere negligence is rarely sufficient to charge for punitive damages. Negligence means that the defendant accidently did something that impacted the safety of the plaintiff. This can sometimes be a result of poor choices but is rarely done intentionally. For charges of punitive damages to hold up legally, the defendant needs to have done something to cause the injury that obviously disregarded the care and safety of the plaintiff and others. This is called an intentional tort. An example of this type of tort is when the defendant assaulted the plaintiff.

In most cases, punitive damages are not the only damages awarded legally. They are not awarded on their own, generally. Punitive damages are awarded along with compensatory damages, which are the damages meant to reimburse the injured party for the losses they experienced, be it physical, emotional, mental or psychological.

Depending on where you live, there may be limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. This is most common with any lawsuit involving medical malpractice. Some states have limits on medical malpractice punitive damages between the amounts of $250,000 and $750,000.

What About Treble Damages?

You may be wondering about the term treble damages. This term refers to punitive damages that are three times the amount of the award a plaintiff may normally be entitled to. So, if for example, the compensatory damages in a personal injury claim are $10,000, then the plaintiff will be allowed to collect $30,000 under a treble damages award in a personal injury lawsuit.

Personal injury lawyer in Sherwood Park knows that it’s also possible to bet a double damages award which would be damages that are two times the normal amount. Double and treble damages are awarded based on a judge’s discretion and if that judge decides that such damages are appropriate. States must have statutes approving double or treble damages in order for them to be awarded. A plaintiff must also specifically request these types of damages since they aren’t granted automatically.