Personal Injury 101: Punitive Damages

punitive damages

Welcome back to Personal Injury 101.  Today's topic is on punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages.

Punitive damages is a monetary compensation awarded to an injured party that goes beyond the typical or necessary amount due to the plaintiff to help compensate for any losses incurred and is meant to punish the defendant.

It is usually handed down by a jury or judge and can show the community that the defendant's actions are unacceptable and will be punished to the furthest extent.  In these types of cases, the defendant's actions are usually considered malicious, violent, fraudulent or reckless.

The threshold for punitive damages varies from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  They can apply to personal injury cases, however, many jurisdictions use punitive damages in moderation, reserving them mainly for intentional torts such as rape or defamation.

As is the case for most damages, which are intended to compensate a victim/plaintiff, punitive damages are the exception to that rule as they are intended to punish the wrongdoer and set a public example.