Understanding Punitive Damages In Personal Injury Cases

Punitive damages are also known as exemplary damages. They are charged with punishing the defendant as well as discouraging others from doing something similar. Generally, they are awarded for setting an example to the public about the potential repercussions of a specific act of misconduct. They are not commonly charged, only in cases where the defendant has done something gravely offensive and damaging. In such cases, compensation alone is not enough; therefore, punitive charges are levied. Click here to read more about punitive damages.

Split recovery Statute

 Many states follow this concept, where the state takes a certain proportion of the amount charged for punitive damages instead of the plaintiff.


The sole objective of punitive damages is to punish the person at fault and set an example instead of just compensating the plaintiff. These are often charged in addition to compensation.

Deciding the number of punitive damages

The judge is responsible for deciding the number of punitive damages charged against the defendant. He determines based on the defendant’s assets, the extent of damage caused by the defendant, and the degree of injury suffered by the plaintiff. The punitive damages are decided by considering the cause and effect of the accident and the defendant’s role.

Cases where punitive damages can be applied 

Generally, punitive damages are charged only in cases where there is proof of intentional malicious conduct by the defendant. It is observed that the defendant knowingly acted with negligence and caused irreparable damage to the plaintiff’s health and property.

They are charged in cases that are initiated under tort law. Some of these instances include personal injury cases or medical malpractice ones. Punitive damages are also charged in bad faith insurance cases when a breach of the insurance contract occurs. 

Limitations on Punitive Damages

When the jury decides on compensatory damages, the finances of the descendant are disregarded. However, in the case of punitive damages, the jury assesses the financial state and assets held by the defendant to determine the number of damages to be charged. Rich defendants often face more punitive damages than less wealthy defendants. They are charged with lower amounts as well as compensatory damages that are not based on their financial situation.

If you are involved in a case like this, it is suggested that you hire a legal attorney as they have a vast knowledge of all the punitive damages information. They also help you make better decisions for your case.