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What Are Punitive Damages? A Personal Injury Lawyer in Bartow, Florida Explains

Personal injury lawyers in Bartow Florida

When filing a personal injury lawsuit in Bartow, Florida, it is essential to know what punitive damages are, and when they might apply. Are you looking for some information on the topic? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This personal injury lawyer in Bartow, Florida is going to discuss everything you’ll need to know about punitive damages below.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are not to compensate the victim for their losses. Unlike the more common “compensatory damages” that cover losses like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages due to the injury, punitive damages are all about punishing the defendant and deterring others from doing something similar.

When Do Florida Courts Award Punitive Damages?

Not all personal injury cases qualify for punitive damages. Florida courts look for certain things before considering punitive damage, such as:

Intentional Misconduct

This is when the defendant knows what they are doing is wrong and can cause harm, but they do it anyway. A personal injury lawyer in Bartow, Florida must prove that the individual made a deliberate decision to act in a way that could hurt someone.

Gross Negligence

This is when the defendant is so reckless that it is clear they do not care about the safety or rights of others. This could mean ignoring known risks or failing to take basic steps that any reasonable person would take to prevent harm.

Strong Evidence

A personal injury lawyer in Bartow, Florida must provide clear and convincing evidence for the court to award punitive damages. There needs to be compelling evidence that the defendant was either grossly negligent or their actions were intentional.

Examples of When Punitive Damages May Apply

Not sure if punitive damages are relevant to your personal injury case? Consider these situations:

Drunk Driving Accident

If someone causes an accident while driving under the influence, this might qualify for punitive damages. In these cases, the driver’s choice to operate a vehicle while impaired shows a reckless disregard for the safety of others on the road.

Intentional Harm

If someone deliberately causes injury to another — for example, in an assault — that’s a clear case for punitive damages. 

Selling Dangerous Products

If a company knows a product is dangerous but sells it without proper warning, and this leads to someone getting hurt, punitive damages may apply. 

Are There Limits on Punitive Damages in Florida?

Florida law does have a limit on the amount that can be awarded as punitive damages. Per Florida Statutes § 768.73, punitive damages cannot be more than three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000 — whichever is higher.

However, there are exceptions.

For example, if the harmful action was motivated by financial gain, punitive damages could be up to four times the compensatory amount, or two million dollars — whichever is higher. This might occur if a company chooses not to fix a known product defect to save money. Moreover, if it is proven that the defendant had a specific intent to harm the victim, there is no limit on the punitive damages that may be awarded.

Looking for a Personal Injury Attorney in Bartow, Florida?

While regular compensation helps you deal with the immediate effects of a personal injury, punitive damages ensure justice by penalizing harmful behavior and preventing the same thing from happening again. If you think punitive damages might be involved in your case, getting advice from a skilled personal injury attorney in Bartow, Florida is important. 

Are you looking to partner with an experienced attorney who can help with your case? If so, look no further than Tonya Stewart Law PA. Tonya and her skilled legal team can determine whether punitive damages apply to your case, then develop a strategy to move forward. Contact us today at (863) 279-4473 to discuss your case.