In Florida, people who pursue personal injury lawsuits may be entitled to punitive damages. However, punitive damages are awarded very rarely, and not all lawsuits that ask for these damages are successful.
If you believe that your case meets the statutory requirements to be eligible for punitive damages, consult with an experienced Lakeland personal injury attorney. Our skilled lawyer at The Turnbull Firm will review your case to determine whether you are eligible to receive punitive damages.
When Are Punitive Damages Awarded in Florida?
In Florida, courts award punitive damages in rare cases. These damages are available in cases where the defendant’s behavior is found to be outrageous, grossly negligent, intentional, or especially harmful.
Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the victim for their damages and losses, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and deter them and other people from similar conduct in the future. Thus, punitive damages are usually awarded to send a message.
While punitive damages are a separate award, they are usually in a well-balanced proportion to compensatory damages. Typically, punitive damages are multiple times higher than the compensatory damages award.
Regardless of the facts surrounding your personal injury case, it is advised to seek legal help from a skilled attorney to help you obtain punitive damages.
Florida Law Limits Punitive Damages
Unlike most other states, Florida limits the amount of punitive damages to $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater. For example, if you were awarded $700,000 in compensatory damages, you would not be able to receive more than $2.1 million in punitive damages.
However, the cap is not applicable in certain circumstances. If the defendant’s intentional actions, which led to your injury, were motivated by financial gain, you may be entitled to four times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million, whichever is greater.
Thus, the amount of compensatory damages plays a key role in determining the appropriate award for punitive damages.
How Can You Prove That Your Personal Injury Case Warrants Punitive Damages?
In Florida, you can receive punitive damages if you can prove that the other party’s actions constitute intentional misconduct or gross negligence (not ordinary negligence). A skilled personal injury attorney on your side may be able to gather substantial evidence proving that you are entitled to punitive damages in your case.
Various types of evidence that may help you prove that you deserve punitive damages include:
- Photos and videos from the scene of the accident
- Surveillance footage showing the incident
- Eyewitness accounts
- Depositions of expert witnesses
- The police report
Under the Florida Statutes Section 768.72, you are required to provide a reasonable evidentiary basis in order to pursue punitive damages in your case.
You may want to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida to help you pursue punitive damages in car accidents involving a drunk driver or when your incident involved intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Florida law is very strict regarding when to award punitive damages. You should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to prove that you are entitled to punitive damages in your case. Contact our lawyer at The Turnbull Firm to schedule a case review. Call at 863-324-3500 today.