What Are Punitive Damages? 

Punitive-Damages-300x225In a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff may be eligible to obtain damages for their losses resulting from a defendant’s negligence. These damages are typically compensatory, meaning that they are designed to compensate victims for their actual injuries. Compensatory damages can be economic and non-economic, such as medical expenses, physical therapy costs, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium.  

Punitive damages also referred to as exemplary damages, are another type of damages that can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants. Exemplary damages are awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s conduct was found to be outrageous. In other words, punitive damages are reserved for instances where the defendant acted so recklessly that they showed extreme disregard for the consequences of their actions. These damages were not explicitly designed to compensate the plaintiffs and are not awarded in every case. 

Negligence Alone Is Insufficient 

Under New York law, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant acted with reckless indifference to their safety or wellbeing to recover punitive damages. Mere negligence or carelessness is not enough to merit a punitive award. Instead, there must be compelling evidence of excessive deviation from reasonable care or wanton negligence. In Ross v. Louise Wise Services., Inc., the court deemed exemplary damages permissible when the defendant’s conduct demonstrates a criminal indifference to their civil responsibilities or a high degree of moral turpitude. While every case is different, the standard of proof to warrant a punitive award is relatively high.  

Courts award punitive damages to signal that reckless behaviors will not be tolerated. When the defendant is a big corporation, such as in a dangerous drug or product liability lawsuit, a massive punitive damages award may be the only way to compel the company to address the harm it caused and focus on changing its ways.

Discuss Your Case With A Battle-Tested Western New York Personal Injury Attorney Now!

Suffering any injury can be devastating, primarily when someone’s wanton negligence causes your harm. The veteran attorneys at the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. are dedicated to holding others responsible for the damage that they have caused. We are highly experienced at demonstrating that another’s reckless indifference surpassed simple carelessness and is enough to merit punitive damages. Retain Jed Dietrich, Esq., well-known as Premier Lawyer of America, and his top rated team to litigate your case aggressively. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C.’s elite team is available twenty-four-seven by dialing 716-839-3939 or completing our online consultation form.

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