What are Punitive Damages?
If a defendant’s behavior was deemed particularly reckless or otherwise determined to be an attempt at deliberate harm, they may be forced to pay punitive damages as part of a personal injury settlement or verdict.
Punitive damages are typically restricted to tort cases, such as personal injury, including product liability, assault, premises liability, and more. In personal injury cases, the plaintiff may be entitled to some or all of these punitive damages. But unlike actual damages—which are intended to compensate the plaintiff—punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant.
Punitive damages are also designed to deter other people in the same position as the defendant from making the same mistakes. If a bicycle company knowingly produces faulty bicycles that cause their customers to be injured, for example, the bicycle company may be sued and forced to pay punitive damages. These damages serve as a warning to other companies that they could face similar punishment if they don’t increase their quality control standards.
In addition to punitive damages and actual damages, there are two other common types of damages a plaintiff may receive:
- Nominal damages, which are more of a symbolic payment
- Liquidated damages, which are typically only required when one party breaches a contract
While many assume that punitive damages tend to be rather large (based on news coverage of famous cases), the reality is that a lot goes into calculating these sums based on the number of people harmed and the severity of that harm.
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If you were injured in an accident that someone else caused and have questions about your legal rights, do not hesitate to contact Kalfus & Nachman. A Norfolk personal injury attorney at our firm would be happy to review your case and help you determine what types of compensation you may be owed.
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