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Punitive vs. Compensatory Damages in Florida Personal Injury Claims

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Posted on September 24, 2012

Updated on May 31, 2024.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you are likely entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our team of Tampa personal injury attorneys regularly handles injury claims across Florida and we are often asked to explain the difference between punitive and compensatory damage. While both offer the plaintiff a monetary reward, they differ in purpose and reasons why the plaintiff is entitled to compensation.

Compensatory damages are the most common type of reward given to the injured party and are designed to recover what the plaintiff has lost as a result of the injury. Plaintiffs are awarded these damages to help them return to emotional and financial state they were in prior to the injury. Common compensatory damages awarded are:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Emotional distress

Punitive damages, on the other hand, occur less often than compensatory damages. They are awarded if the presiding judge believes the defendant’s negligent act merits punishment. Punitive damages are intended to discourage the guilty party from committing the same act in the future. For example, in a lawsuit arising from a car accident punitive damages may be appropriate if the driver was driving while under the influence (drunk driving). Common punitive damages awarded are:

  • Court reporter fees
  • Costs of exhibits
  • Reproduction fee
  • Fees charged by legal experts
  • Miscellaneous expenses

The circumstances surrounding punitive damages are unique to each case, and the court will consider various factors before awarding such damages. Here are some examples of egregious acts that may warrant the addition of punitive damages:

  1. Intentional Harm:
    • Assault or Battery: Deliberate physical harm or threat.
    • Fraud: Intentional deception for financial gain.
  2. Gross Negligence:
    • Medical Malpractice: Severe negligence by healthcare professionals leading to significant harm.
    • Product Liability: Knowing distribution of defective or dangerous products.
  3. Reckless Behavior:
    • Drunk Driving: Accidents caused by driving under the influence.
    • Workplace Safety Violations: Ignoring safety regulations leading to employee injuries.
  4. Environmental Damage:
    • Pollution: Companies knowingly causing environmental harm without proper safeguards.
  5. Corporate Misconduct:
    • Securities Fraud: Providing false information to manipulate financial markets.
    • Antitrust Violations: Deliberate monopolistic practices harming competition.
  6. Governmental or Institutional Misconduct:
    • Civil Rights Violations: Systemic actions leading to infringement of individual rights.
    • Fraudulent Financial Practices: Misleading financial practices harming investors.

With each case we handle, our legal team does extensive research to determine all the damages you are entitled to. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, Vanguard Attorneys will work diligently to ensure that you are rewarded the compensation you rightfully deserve. To learn what damages you may be entitled to call 813-471-4444 and speak with one of our lawyers today.

Punitive vs. Compensatory Damages Infographic

Punitive vs Compensatory Damages infographic

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