Typically, in a personal injury case, the injured plaintiff accuses the defendant of negligence. A negligent act is one that has been carried out in the absence of reasonable behavior. Now suppose that a negligent act has been outrageous or reprehensible, what happens then? In that particular case, the court would probably want to hit the defendant with more than the traditional damage award.
Typical award for damages
Normally, such an award compensates the plaintiff for the harm inflicted on him or her by the defendant. The typical award covers the cost of the plaintiff’s medical expenses, plus the income lost, during the time spent recovering from the suffered injuries. The typical award in a personal injury case does not force the responsible party to pay punitive damages, as per Personal Injury Lawyer in St Thomas.
What are punitive damages?
That is the name given to a method that the court uses for punishing a defendant that has exhibited the sort of behavior that would qualify as more than neglectful. Punitive damages have no link to the plaintiff’s injuries. Yet the plaintiff receives the money that must serve as payment for the punitive damages.
When does a court normally decide to award a plaintiff with punitive damages?
Each state has the right to set the bar (for awarding punitive damages) at the level that it wants. In some states, courts require a show of intentional misconduct on the part of the defendant. In other states, plaintiffs that have been harmed by a defendant’s recklessness, malice or deceit could get awarded punitive damages.
In yet a third group of states, a demonstration of gross negligence could push a judge to demand a punishing payment from the responsible party. What sorts of actions have defendants made, if a state has chosen to charge them with gross negligence? Judge’s ruling on such cases have found that the defendant chose to act in a manner that displayed an unquestionable indifference towards others.
Special rules on gross negligence
If someone that had been working for the government had chosen to act in a manner that could be viewed as decidedly/grossly neglectful, then that same employee would lose his or her immunity to liability. Usually, if a plaintiff brings to the court a personal injury case against a government employee, then that charged defendant/employee enjoys immunity to liability.
A judge’s response to a given defendant’s behavior varies from state to state. Sometimes even a defendant that has displayed gross negligence might not get hit with a severe monetary punishment (punitive damages). That would be the case if the state in which the plaintiff had filed the personal injury claim happened to have placed a cap on the size of the awarded punitive damages.