Can You Pursue Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?
Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, which means one party failed to uphold a duty of care and this breach resulted in an injury to someone else.
However, sometimes an at-fault party’s negligence is particularly egregious. For example, drinking and driving is an extreme form of negligence. When things like this happen, the victim may be able to pursue punitive damages.
Below, learn more about what punitive damages are, when they may be available, and how you can get more answers to these and other legal questions in a free consultation with a licensed attorney.
Minnesota Law on Punitive Damages
State law explains when personal injury victims may be able to pursue punitive damages. They are only available when there is clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party’s actions showed intentional disregard for the safety or rights of others.
There are two ways to prove someone acted with this level of willful disregard:
- The at-fault party acted deliberately with conscious or intentional disregard for the high probability of others being injured
- The at-fault party deliberately acted with indifference to the high probability of injury to the rights or safety or others
These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and hopefully deter others from engaging in the same kind of behavior in the future. They are not connected to the out-of-pocket costs or other losses suffered by the victim.
Types of Claims Where Punitive Damages May be Available
There is obviously room for interpretation on what something like conscious or intentional disregard for another’s safety means.
However, there are certain types of claims where punitive damages are often awarded:
- Drunk-driving crashes
- Defective product claims, particularly class action lawsuits
- Medical malpractice cases where the victim is severely or permanently injured
- Wrongful death cases
If you have reason to believe the at-fault party was intentionally negligent, or your injuries resulted from criminal behavior, we strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with a qualified attorney.
Our Bloomington personal injury lawyers know how to determine if punitive damages may be available and how to include them in your claim.
At TSR Injury Law, we work hard to obtain maximum compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We are committed to holding the at-fault party financially responsible, especially under circumstances where he or she exhibited behavior that was willfully reckless or grossly negligent.
How Much are Punitive Damages Worth?
According to state law, the value of a punitive damages award is based on the factors that “justly bear upon the purpose of punitive damages”. This may include things like:
- Seriousness of the hazard to the public
- Profitability of the misconduct
- Whether the negligent conduct was concealed
- How long the misconduct went on
Once a determination is made about your eligibility for compensatory damages, there will be a separate proceeding to determine if punitive damages may be also available.
The judge makes the determination about whether punitive damages will be awarded in a case. There are no limits under state law regarding the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded.
Call TSR Injury Law to Discuss Your Claim
Meeting with one of our attorneys after an injury can be an important step to take as you consider your legal options. Our firm has obtained more than $150 million in compensation on behalf of Minnesota personal injury victims.
The initial legal consultation is free and comes with no obligation to take legal action. That means there is no risk to you in meeting with us to find out how we may be able to help you. Read our testimonials page to see what our clients have to say about the services we provided them.
We are here to answer your legal questions. Call (612) TSR-TIME.