What Do You Mean By Punitive Damages?

What is punitive damages

                              Auto accident cases

Are you wondering how punitive damages are different form the usual compensatory damages? Then read on. You might find this article an interesting read.

So what is punitive damages? As the name implies, punitive damages, sometimes also known as exemplary damages are the punishments that are meted out to an individual held guilty. The main purpose of punishing the individual is to lay an example so as to discourage others from committing similar wrongdoings in the future. For this reason, the amount that is awarded as punitive damages is often much greater than the measurable valuable of the injury caused or the losses incurred. At times punitive damages could also take the form of time in prison.

In the case of auto accidents, punitive damages may be awarded if it can be proved that the defendant was drunk or under the influence of harmful drugs at the time of the accident. Such a person can be charged for committing manslaughter. Such a person need only be proved as being drunk, negligent in following traffic rules or gross disregard to human life and property.

Medical professionals too can be sued for negligence. Indeed more number of such professionals is brought before the court by grieving families than any other person. This is because they feel that hospital deaths could have been prevented if such person had shown concern towards the victim and had acted differently. However, the law, as it stands today, requires medics to prove that they had exercised reasonable care while treating their patients. The law recognizes the difficulty of being in the medical industry and that such professionals would not on purpose cause the death of one of their patients. The court also recognizes the grieving family and gives a chance to both sides to clarify their stand.

The amount that can be awarded as punitive damages will depend on the particulars of each case. If it can be shown that defendant acted with pure malicious intent then enormous amounts can be awarded as compensation. Previous cases of punitive damages will also be huge deciding factor. Also,

Exemplary damages

             Discourage individuals from doing wrong

unlike the compensatory damage considerations, the defendant’s net worth will also be taken into consideration while deciding on the amount to be awarded as punitive damages.

Now you know what is punitive damages. As the amount awarded is way higher than plaintiff’s provable injuries, not all personal injury lawsuits are awarded the punitive damages. The court must have substantial evidence proving that the defendant behaved in a reckless and outrageous manner which is not as easy it seems.