What Are “Punitive Damages?”
Damages in tort cases can be divided into two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Any direct financial losses arising from the tort (economic damages) and the consequences that are not objectively verifiable like pain and suffering (non-economic damages) fall under “compensatory damages.” All successful tort cases will yield compensatory damages.
Punitive damages, however, are only awarded in tort cases that involve particularly egregious behavior on the part of the defendant. The specific circumstances when punitive damages are awarded vary by state. In Florida, punitive damages may be available in cases that involve intentional misconduct or gross negligence. That means you won’t be able to recover punitive damages, according to your personal injury attorney, if the spinal cord injury was caused by ordinary negligence.
As the name implies, “intentional misconduct” is established by proving that the defendant knew his or her misconduct would expose other people to a heightened risk of death or injury yet chose to engage in the conduct nonetheless. If you were a victim of battery, for example, and this resulted in your spinal cord injury, it may be possible to collect both punitive damages and compensatory damages. Another example of intentional misconduct is when a business knowingly and deliberately violates industry safety regulations. For instance, if you were paralyzed due to a product defect and it is discovered that the manufacturer was aware of the defect and covered up evidence of the defect, the manufacturer might be ordered to pay punitive damages. This is something your personal injury attorney will help you define.
If you intend to seek punitive damages by proving gross negligence, you will not have to demonstrate that intent played a role. Rather, you will have to prove that the defendant’s conduct was so reckless that it exhibited a conscious disregard for your rights, life, or safety.
A classic example of gross negligence is drunk driving. If you were paralyzed in a crash with an intoxicated motorist, your claim for punitive damages would be especially strong if the at-fault motorist had previous DUI convictions and a particularly high BAC. A spinal cord personal injury attorney will tell you that a hit and run accident is another example of gross negligence since fleeing the scene could prevent victims from receiving emergency medical care, and it is a criminal offense.
A spinal cord personal injury attorney in Jensen Beach have many years of experience helping clients seek compensation for punitive damages. If you believe that gross negligence or intentional misconduct played a role in your accident, we will do everything we can to help you pursue a punitive award.
What Does “Loss of Consortium” Mean?
As you may already know, a spinal cord injury can affect the victim’s entire family. In the state of Florida, the spouse of a person who suffers an SCI may be able to obtain compensation for loss of consortium, which is the loss of comfort, affection, fellowship, society, solace, and/or sexual relationship.
At Donaldson & Weston, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects that an SCI can have on the victim’s loved ones. We will tirelessly fight for the full compensation that your family deserves, and we will not hesitate to take your case to trial if the opposing party refuses to pay a fair settlement. Call 772-266-5555 to speak with a personal injury attorney or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free case evaluation with a truck accident lawyer in Florida.