What are punitive damages, and when can I ask for them in a Florida car crash case?

Several types of damages might come into play in a Florida car accident litigation. Some are considered compensatory in nature. The law allows a person who was injured in a car crash to seek damages against the negligent at-fault driver and compensate the injured person. Compensatory damages can be economic or non-economic. Economic damages are to compensate an injured person for any unpaid medical bills (either past and future) and any unpaid lost wages (either past and future). Non-economic compensatory damages are for the pain and suffering and loss of life’s pleasures that the injured person suffers. There is no set formula to figure out non-economic damages. The number for this will determine the severity of your injury and its extent.

Punitive damages do not compensate the plaintiff for any loss, but they are meant to punish the at-fault driver for their outrageous and reckless actions. Unlike compensatory damages that an at-fault driver has to pay an injured party for things like medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, punitive damages act both as a deterrent and as a form of punishment to the offending party. Punitive damages are generally levied against a wrongdoer when they act with malice, willfulness, moral turpitude or in reckless indifference for another person’s legal rights.

Under Florida law, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is lowest. Some other types of cases that punitive damages can be awarded in Florida accidents are when the driver does something intentional, such as intentionally hitting a car or another type of road rage incident.

If you have been injured in a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Joyce & Reyes at (813) 251-2007. The initial consultation is free.

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