There are three main categories of damages that can be awarded to a personal injury victim: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Economic and non-economic damages are awarded to victims who have incurred expenses, experienced losses, or suffered physically or mentally as a result of their injuries. But, when are punitive damages awarded to personal injury victims?
An Introduction to Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are supposed to be used to punish the defendant for his extremely negligent conduct. Therefore, these damages are not awarded to compensate the victim for specific expenses or losses, but rather to teach the defendant a lesson.
When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?
Punitive damages are not awarded in every personal injury case. To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove that their injuries were a result of the defendant’s decision to “commit an act of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct.”
Most personal injury victims that recover punitive damages do so by proving that the defendant committed an act of willful and wanton conduct. This means the defendant knew he was acting in a manner that could put others in harm’s way, but continued to do so anyways. The court often finds that these defendants acted with a complete disregard for the safety of others and should be punished using punitive damages.
Many victims that are awarded punitive damages successfully prove that the defendant acted with malice, not willful or wanton conduct. This is done by proving the defendant’s actions were intentional because he had a desire to hurt the plaintiff.
How Much Compensation Will Be Awarded?
There is a cap on punitive damages in Colorado. Punitive damages cannot exceed the amount of non-economic and economic damages awarded to the personal injury victim. For instance, if the plaintiff is awarded $50,000 in non-economic and economic damages, he will not be able to recover more than $50,000 in punitive damages.
It can be difficult to recover punitive damages since the court reserves them for cases where the defendant acted with extreme negligence or malice. A personal injury attorney can review your case to determine if you should ask the court to order the defendant to pay punitive damages.
If you have been injured, seek legal representation from the personal injury attorneys at Reisch Law Firm. Our personal injury attorneys will aggressively pursue compensation for your injuries. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.