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What are Punitive Damages and When Are You Entitled to Them?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2021 | Tampa Personal Injury

There are a few types of damages that you may be entitled to recover in a Florida personal injury action. In addition to economic and non-economic damages, a plaintiff might also be awarded punitive damages. These types of damages are only awarded in limited cases and require the plaintiff to show more than ordinary negligence.

In addition to compensating the plaintiff for losses they suffered, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for acting recklessly or maliciously. They are also meant to deter the defendant and others from engaging in such conduct in the future. Under Florida law, a claim for punitive damages is only permitted in a civil action if there is a “reasonable basis” for recovery.

In Florida, punitive damages may be available in cases involving:

  • Intentional misconduct — A plaintiff may be entitled to recover punitive damages if the defendant knew their conduct was wrongful and could result in a high probability of injury.
  • Gross negligence — A court may award punitive damages if the defendant acted with complete disregard or indifference to the life or safety of the person who they caused to suffer injury.

A defendant may only be held liable for punitive damages if the jury finds that the plaintiff is entitled to them based on clear and convincing evidence. The jury will also determine the amount of punitive damages that should be awarded and can consider evidence of the defendant’s financial circumstances.

Punitive damages are usually requested in the later stages of litigation. After sufficient evidence has been gathered, a plaintiff may adjust their complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages.

Florida caps the amount of punitive damages that may be available in certain cases. If it cannot be proven that the defendant intended to cause harm, punitive damages are capped at $500,000. In cases in which the sole motivation of the defendant’s wrongful conduct was financial gain — and they knew the conduct would likely cause injury — punitive damages may be awarded up to $2 million.

If you were injured as a result of another’s intentional or grossly negligent conduct, it’s critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to help you pursue punitive damages. Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. provides proficient representation to clients in personal injury actions throughout the Tampa area. Call 813-902-3925 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Tampa office.