Legally, when an individual is harmed due to another person or persons’ negligence, they are compensated for their losses. The compensation that an individual receives depends on the unique circumstances of their case. While many people know that damages are awarded to cover the costs of the injury and financial losses, it is not always well known that additional damages can possibly be awarded as well. These additional damages are referred to as punitive damages.
At Wright & Gray, we ensure that our clients receive the compensation that they deserve. Through skilled negotiation and legal strategy, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will advocate tirelessly for you. If you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else, you may be able to receive punitive damages. Considering contacting us at 504-500-0000 to learn more about this option and see if your case may be eligible for punitive damages.
In a personal injury lawsuit, if the court finds in favor of the victim, a settlement may be awarded to compensate for the injury. This settlement provides for the damages incurred by the individual. These damages can come in two forms, namely:
These damages are determined based on the severity of the accident and the nature of the negligence involved. For this reason, settlements can vary greatly. In every successful personal injury lawsuit, the victim will be compensated such that they can return to their financial standing prior to the accident. In some cases, however, the court may determine that this compensation is not enough and award punitive damages as well. This can be very substantial for victims of an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
Also called “exemplary damages,” punitive damages refer to compensation that goes beyond the scope of injuries and losses. They awarded at the court’s discretion, typically when the defendant’s behavior is considered excessively harmful. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their negligence, and set an example to others who would consider engaging in the same type of reckless or dangerous behavior.
While the goal of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim, they will still receive the monetary award. When punitive damages are directed by the court, the defendant must pay the chosen amount to the victim. It is important to note that punitive damages are entirely separate from compensatory damages and are not applicable in every situation.
How do punitive damages differ from compensatory damages? The difference is substantial. Beginning with compensatory damages, these are awarded to victims of negligence to compensate them for their injuries or losses. Some examples of compensatory damages include:
In order to quality for compensatory damages, the victim must be able to prove that their suffering and losses can be equated to a monetary amount. In some situations, compensatory damages may be awarded to address future losses as well, such as a future loss of income due to the accident. The courts will make the final judgement regarding the monetary value of the victim’s overall losses.
Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages in that they go above and beyond mere losses incurred. While compensatory damages are used to provide the victim with enough money to counterbalance their losses, punitive damages are used as a way for the court to punish the defendant’s negligence, or reckless behavior.
There are several reasons why a court may award punitive damages, which may include:
Before a court will decide to award punitive damages, they will look at the case holistically and take several factors into consideration. Two elements are of particularly importance:
The second criteria is distinctly important, as courts rely heavily on case law to determine their own position in the matter.
Louisiana law takes a limited position on punitive damages, only awarding them in special circumstances. Louisiana Civil Code Art. 3546 states that punitive damages may be awarded depending on the laws of the state where the injury occurred or where the person who caused the injury resides. Moreover, in a recent court case from the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the court recognized that punitive damages are allowed under general maritime law. This is particularly important for injured maritime workers such as longshoremen, for example.
For a clearer understanding of what are punitive damages in Louisiana, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney at Wright & Gray.
When it comes to punitive damages, there are many legal complexities involved. Moreover, punitive damages cannot be award in every case. For these reasons, seeking legal guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney is important to understand all of your legal rights. An experienced lawyer can also help navigate the issue of punitive damages and determine whether or not your case qualifies for such compensation.
At Wright & Gray, we want our clients to receive the greatest amount possible in compensation. We understand the stress and pain that is so common following an accident. These feeling are compounded when the accident occurred to someone else’s recklessness. For this reason, we advocate for punitive damages whenever possible. Do not leave money on the table. Contact us today at 504-500-0000 to learn more about how we can optimize your compensation.