Punitive Damages: What Are They and When Are They Awarded?

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When a case is settled and found in favor of the plaintiff, compensation is awarded based on the incident and the subsequent results. This compensation generally comes in two forms, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. While both categories result in a monetary amount being awarded to the plaintiff, they are designed to achieve different things.

When compensatory damages are awarded, they are meant to cover damage, loss, or suffering to the plaintiff’s person or property. There are two categories, actual and general, but both are awarded based on what the plaintiff is seeking to account for the damages caused by the defendants’ actions. Examples of compensatory damages would be money to cover repair bills or fees from health practitioners.

How Punitive Damages Work

The amount awarded as punitive damage is not based on what the plaintiff has lost, but rather as a punishment to the defendant based on their negligence. The intent when awarding punitive damages is to deter the defendant and others from acting in a neglectful way in the future, as their actions have been deemed especially deplorable.

Not all cases are awarded punitive damages, as they are typically reserved for special situations in which willful negligence has occurred or the situation warrants punishment beyond ordinary compensation. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant committed intentionally egregious behavior to create an argument for punitive damages. At this point, either the judge or jury will determine if they are to be awarded and for what amount.

Typically, punitive damages are calculated based on the compensatory amount awarded. Many states, including Missouri, have laws that govern the maximum amount awardable as punitive damages.

Contact Schultz & Myers to Ensure you are Awarded the Maximum Amount Possible

The personal injury lawyers at Schultz & Myers work to ensure that when damages are awarded, all loss and suffering is accounted for and compensated accordingly. The team of lawyers also has significant experience in negotiating and maximizing punitive damages if your case has the potential for a punitive award. To schedule a free consultation, call Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers today or use our online contact form.

Punitive Damages FAQ

I have won my case. Will I receive punitive damages?

Unless it can be shown that the defendant was especially negligent or deserves supplemental punishment, only compensatory damages will be awarded. It should not be assumed that punitive damages will be awarded.

Do I receive the money awarded in punitive damages

Yes, despite the intent of punitive damages being to punish the defendant, the plaintiff receives the amount awarded.

Is there a maximum amount I can be awarded in punitive damages?

There are many laws governing amounts awardable in compensatory and punitive damages, and they vary depending on the type of case. This amount can be determined during your consultation to identify which laws apply to your case.

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