If you are involved in an accident that was due to the negligence of another party, it may make sense for you to pursue a civil trial. When you are looking to file a lawsuit against another party you will likely first look to receive compensatory or economic damages. These damages will provide you with an economic reimbursement for your actual costs or pain and suffering. Another type of claim that you can make is for punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages that are assessed in an attempt to actually punish the other party. When you are filing a civil lawsuit, there are several factors that will impact whether or not you can successfully file a claim for punitive damages.
Circumstances of the Misconduct
Punitive damages are different from other types of damages in that they are set to specifically punish the other party. In order to receive punitive damages, you will likely need to prove that there was deliberate misconduct. If you can prove that the other party was negligent and knowingly did not try to improve the situation, then you could receive some punitive damage reward.
Length of Misconduct
Another factor that will impact whether or not you are able to file and win a claim for punitive damages is how long the misconduct was outstanding. If the misconduct was temporary and only lasted for a short period of time, it will be hard to win the case. On the other hand, if you can prove that it was a recurring practice of the other party, then you could have an easy time winning the award.
When they are looking to decide on the decision of a punitive damage claim, many juries and judges will also look to whether the defendant tried to conceal the claim. The largest punitive damage cases and judgements tend to come when it is obvious that the defendant went to lengths in an effort to conceal the practice. This deliberate attempt will normally be a lot harder to prove, but could result in a much bigger judgement if you are able to prove it successfully.
Amount Needed to Deter Future Misconduct
Once the jury has decided that punitive damages are appropriate, the next step will be for them to determine the amount to award you. A large part of this process will include figuring out how much money needs to be charged in order to deter the company or person from repeating this misconduct in the future. In many situations, these judgements end up being very sizable as the jury will want to make sure that the defendants are fully aware that they cannot repeat the action in the future. At the same time, it needs to be an amount that is affordable so the defendant is able to actually make the payments. This process could also include creating an escrow for future charges that could come about. In some cases that involve larger organizations, this could end up resulting in a class action suit against the defendant company.
In conclusion, if you are injured due to the negligence of another party, it may make sense to file a civil lawsuit. One of the biggest choices that you will need to make is whether you should make a claim for both compensatory damages and punitive damages. There are several factors that will impact whether or not you can file a claim for punitive damages and win. For those that are in the area, hiring a personal injury lawyer could be very helpful. Personal injury attorneys will help you to navigate the complexities of the legal process and help you determine whether you should file a claim for punitive damages.