In some cases, damages happen purely by accident. In many cases, accidents happen because of carelessness, not malevolence. 

In other cases, however, things can be less clear, or it’s obvious that harm was caused on purpose. In these cases, you may be due punitive damages, but what are these damages, and how do you seek them? Here’s what you need to know before you sue

What Warrants Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are incurred when a party is found guilty of intentionally causing harm, or causing harm by being reckless or grossly negligent.

The court decides what circumstances warrant punitive damages. A case for punitive damages must include proof that the defendant intentionally broke a law with the knowledge that it could cause harm to someone else’s person or property. 

Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages, which are primarily intended for the wronged party to recover lost income, pay for medical bills, or compensate them for pain and suffering. There is a precedent for punitive damages being awarded for cases involving gross negligence, recklessness, and malicious intent.

Required Proof

To receive punitive damages, the wronged party must be able to present evidence that the defendant intentionally caused harm, or was knowingly reckless or grossly negligent. 

Let’s say an individual chooses to drive knowing that they have been drinking, and they cause an accident. The injured party may be awarded punitive damages because they knowingly did something that put others in harm’s way. 

Breaking the law in a way that intentionally causes an injury may also be grounds for punitive damages. For example, someone may have assaulted you, leaving you with serious injuries. In these cases, you may even use evidence from the criminal trial for this offense to prove you were injured by their malicious actions. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Punitive Damages?

In some cases, it may seem that your case is obvious, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a lawyer. Punitive damages are not easy to seek, and without a lawyer, it can be difficult to prove you’re due these damages along with your compensatory damages. 

Your injury lawyer can do more than prove you’re due punitive damages. Your lawyer can be a key part of getting the maximum compensation for your claim overall. With a lawyer at your side, you have tools and resources you may be otherwise unable to access and representation in the courtroom. Your lawyer can make your case easier for you without sacrificing compensation. 

Talk to a Lawyer About Your Damages

If you or a loved one have suffered from harm that may have been caused intentionally or due to gross negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. While financial compensation will not undo the loss or damage you are facing, it can make recovery much smoother and less painful. 

If you believe your case may warrant punitive damages, the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Craig Swapp & Associates can give you a free case review today. When you’re ready for your free consultation, complete the following online contact form or call 1-800-404-9000—one call, that’s all.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp