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Punitive Damages in Florida

gavelIf you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. While compensatory damages are awarded quite commonly, punitive damages are much harder to obtain. Punitive damages are only permissible in limited situations and are awarded in a very small percentage of personal injury cases. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, it is important to contact a qualified Miami personal injury attorney who can help assess the merits of your case as well as what types of damages you may be eligible for.

Compensatory damages are awarded to make an injured person whole. Thus, compensatory damages include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical impairment, lost income and benefits, property damage, and therapy costs.

Punitive damages are special or exceptional damages designed to punish the offending party for its reckless or careless conduct. The idea is that punitive damages deter others from acting in a negligent manner. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the injured party. As such, the awarded sum is generally much higher than the measurable value of the harm.

In the state of Florida, punitive damages are predominantly governed by Florida Statute §§ 768.72. The standard for seeking punitive damages is very high. The statute states that a defendant may only be responsible for punitive damages if he or she engaged in intentional misconduct or gross negligence. This is established if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the defendant knew what he or she was doing, intended to do it, and acted with a “conscious disregard” for the safety of others.

The plaintiff must show the above by clear and convincing evidence. This is a higher standard than ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ which is typically used in personal injury cases. Proving something by a preponderance of the evidence simply requires demonstrating that the proposition is more likely true than not true. Clear and convincing evidence is an intermediate level of burden of proof in which a party must prove that his or her version of events is substantially more likely to be true than not true.

It is important to note that a party cannot seek punitive damages in the initial complaint, regardless of the situation. It must attempt to get evidence of conduct that would be worthy of punitive damages and then amend its complaint to include that evidence at a later date. The judge has to approve the amendment.

Due to strict substantive and procedural requirements pertaining to punitive damages, it is important to seek the help and guidance of a qualified Miami car accident attorney. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we understand the nuances of personal injury law and can help assess what damages you will be eligible for. We understand the last thing you want to think about is the legal process. However, obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries can help ease the burden of the sudden expenses that often arise after such an incident. To learn more, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

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The “Foreign Body” Instruction in Florida Medical Negligence Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015

Negligence Claims against Pharmacies in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 27, 2015

Common Examples of Negligent Driving in Florida Car Accident Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 27, 2015