When Are Punitive Damages Awarded in Florida Personal Injury Cases?
If you were seriously hurt through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. These include the economic and non-economic damages arising from the tort such as medical bills, lost income, property repairs, and pain and suffering. In some cases, it is also possible to collect punitive damages.
In the state of Florida, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s behavior constituted intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Intentional misconduct is exhibited when a person knows that their behavior exposes other people to a higher risk of injury or death but overlooks the dangers and acts anyway. Gross negligence refers to behavior that demonstrates a deliberate disregard for the rights, health, or safety of others.
Battery is a common example of intentional misconduct. Driving drunk, on the other hand, may constitute gross negligence. These are not the only scenarios that warrant punitive damages, but they are two of the most prevalent.
Caps on Punitive Damages Awards in Florida
If the defendant’s conduct constituted intentional misconduct, there is no cap on the potential punitive award. The judge may order as much as he or she sees fit to punish the defendant for the transgression.
If the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, on the other hand, the potential punitive award will typically be capped at $500,000 or three times the total compensatory damages, whichever is greater. If the defendant was motivated by financial gain, though, this cap increases to $2 million.
Should your case involve medical malpractice, a $500,000 cap will apply if you go up against a practitioner. If you have grounds for a claim against a non-practitioner, however, you may seek up to $750,000 in punitive damages.
It’s worth noting that there are several exceptions to these caps. As such, it’s wise to discuss your case with a seasoned personal injury lawyer before building your claim.
It’s also important to remember that punitive damages cannot be awarded against a government agency. If a city, state, or federal entity is liable for your injuries, you may seek only compensatory damages.
How Can I Prove My Case Warrants Punitive Damages?
In order to recover a punitive award, you will have to prove that the defendant’s misconduct exceeded ordinary negligence. The strongest evidence of intentional misconduct or gross negligence will depend on the circumstances; however, it may include some combination of the following:
- Photographs of the scene;
- Surveillance recordings or dashcam footage of the incident;
- Eyewitness deposition;
- Expert witness deposition;
- The defendant’s social media posts;
- Toxicology reports; and
- The police report.
Call 727-845-5972 to Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida
At Nicoletti Law Firm, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that unanticipated injuries can take on the whole family. If you were hurt through no fault of your own, let us help you gather the evidence needed to build the strongest claim possible. Call 727-845-5972 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Florida.