Understanding Florida Punitive Damages
Bringing a lawsuit that asks for punitive damages differs from your standard personal injury case. Not every lawsuit that includes a claim for punitive damages will be successful.
In fact, if you’re hoping for punitive damages, Florida awards are rare.
If you plan to bring a lawsuit that includes Florida punitive damages, it’s important to speak with an experienced Pensacola personal injury attorney.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Courts will award punitive damages in Florida only in cases where they decide that the defendant’s actions were intentional or grossly negligent.
They are awarded in civil cases when the court concludes that there is a need to punish the defendant or deter them or others from repeating the same behavior that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
How Common Is It to Be Awarded Punitive Damages in Florida?
Punitive damages are awarded only on rare occasions. They are not awarded in the majority of cases. The court reserves these awards for cases where they need to send a message to an industry or the community as a deterrent.
Do Punitive Damages Differ for Different Injuries?
Punitive damages are a separate category included in your lawsuit, but they will still accompany an award for compensatory damages.
An award for punitive damages in Florida is usually proportionate to the amount of compensatory damages you receive.
In most cases, you are unlikely to receive a punitive damages award that is many times higher than your compensatory damages award.
Punitive Damage Caps in Florida
The Florida punitive damages statute puts a cap on punitive damage awards. This means that an award for punitive damages cannot exceed a certain amount.
The Florida punitive damages statute allows an award of up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever amount is higher.
So, if you were awarded $1 million in compensatory damages, you could not be awarded more than $3 million in punitive damages.
There is an exception to that cap in certain situations. If the defendant’s intentional actions were for the purpose of financial gain, then the punitive damages could be as high as four times the amount of compensatory damages, or two million dollars, whichever amount is higher.
An example would be a situation where a company decided not to fix a dangerous product defect they were aware of because it would cut into their profits.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Compensation for Your Injuries
Personal injury claims can be complicated, especially if you’re asking for punitive damages. Florida law is very strict on what types of cases are eligible for punitive damages. To improve your chances of receiving an award, you need to work with a skilled Pensacola personal injury attorney.
When you retain an attorney, we can help you in numerous ways. We will handle all the communications with the defendant’s insurance company and/or legal counsel. This can help you concentrate fully on your recovery.
We will gather all the necessary evidence to prove liability on the part of the defendant. In cases asking for punitive damages, it’s imperative to gather evidence demonstrating the need for a Florida punitive damages award.
Your attorney will work with your medical providers, gathering records and billings. If there are any lienholders, we can work with them to potentially reduce the amounts owed.
We will present a demand and work with the defendant’s carrier to reach a fair settlement once we’ve gathered all the necessary evidence and documentation.
Cases involving punitive damages are generally resolved through litigation. It is the court that decides whether your case meets the burden for an award.
That means you need a Pensacola personal injury lawyer with trial experience. You want someone who will be aggressive and isn’t afraid to fight for your rights, even if the defendant is a major corporation with an intimidating team of defense lawyers.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
If you need assistance with a personal injury claim in Florida, let our legal team assist. Our firm has been around for over 100 years, and we take pride in helping clients just like you.
We bring a wealth of legal knowledge and expertise in all types of personal injury matters. We aren’t afraid to be aggressive and take your case to trial if that’s what’s necessary.