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Punitive Damages

When someone injures another person, the injured person can choose to file a civil lawsuit, damages rewarded in civil lawsuits are usually compensatory. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate for actual losses endured by the victim.Losses endured by the victim can include:.

  • Economic Losses
    • Loss of Earnings
    • Medical Expenses
    • Funeral Expenses
    • Loss of Anticipated Earnings

  • Non-Economic Losses
    • Pain
    • Suffering
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
    • Loss of Companionship
.However, if the defendant intentionally injured the victim or if the defendant was particularly reckless, punitive damages can be awarded to the plaintiff. Punitive damages can be rewarded on top of compensatory damages as a way to punish the defendant.Often times, a defendant may be acquitted of criminal charges, but is found guilty in a civil lawsuit. This was the case with O.

J. Simpson. Although he was acquitted of his criminal charges, the families of Goldman and Brown sued him in a civil lawsuit for punitive damages and won.Punitive damages can usually be found in cases involving:.

  • Assault
  • Fraud
  • Deceit
  • Recklessness
.When a court awards punitive damages to the plaintiff, it is meant to discourage the behavior of the defendant and of any other people in the future.In 2003, A Utah jury awarded Curtis Campbell with $1 million in compensatory damages and $145 million in punitive damages in a case against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. However, the amount of the punitive damages was lessened after State Farm brought forth an appeal, citing $145 million was an unreasonable amount.Since then, the Supreme Court stated that in general, punitive damages that are awarded should be a reasonable ratio to the compensatory damages.The amount of punitive damage awards are now usually a single digit multiple of the compensatory damages, and courts will generally not stand for punitive damages that are more than nine times the amount of the compensatory damages.

However, since the State Farm v. Campbell case, many courts have recognized that there are instances where a defendant's conduct is so reprehensible, malicious, or egregious that a higher multiple may be acceptable.At the moment, punitive damages in the State of New York are awarded following the guidelines of the Supreme Court.


Please click here for more information on personal injury lawsuits in New York.

By: Warren Duff

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