Will Court Punish Outrageous Behavior With Punitive Damages

Most damage awards are based on the negative impact of a given accident. Yet that is not the case with punitive damages. Those damages become the burden placed on a defendant that has displayed a certain level of behavior. It was behavior that the court has viewed as outrageous or egregious.

When does a court award punitive damage?

Typically, a court awards such damages to a victim of intentional misconduct. In some states a defendant that has demonstrated recklessness, malice, or deceit could get hit with the need to pay punitive damages. Frequently a show of gross negligence on the defendant’s part pushes a court to use an award (punitive damages) as punishment.

What is gross negligence?

A defendant demonstrates gross negligence if he or she acts in a manner that indicates a disregard for the safety of others. A driver that hit a pedestrian while speeding through a red light would be guilty of gross negligence.

If a customer at a recreation facility got hurt, and then sought help from a Injury Lawyer in Kitchener, that same injured customer might be told to charge the facility with gross negligence. Why would that be used, rather than a charge of traditional negligence?

Most recreation facilities ask the customers to sign a waiver, which is supposed to remove them from responsibility for any accident. However, under the law such a waiver does not remove the business that issued it from responsibility for an accident that had resulted from performance of a grossly neglectful action.

What are the benefits and drawbacks to awards for plaintiffs, those that punish the defendant?

The benefit is the added amount of money that the court grants the plaintiff. Added money usually counts as a benefit. Surprisingly, that added amount of money could also be viewed as a drawback. Unlike most damages, those that punish a defendant are not designed to aid a plaintiff’s return to a previous financial position. For that reason, the government has the right to tax the added money that gets awarded by the court.

Consequently, some plaintiffs ask their attorney to speak with the judge about removing the award that is known as punitive damages. Normally, when an attorney makes that request, the judge gets directed to facts that concern another aspect of the harm done to the client/plaintiff.

For example, the attorney’s request might focus on some emotional issue that developed, following the accident. In that way, the attorney could encourage the judge to drop the considered award, but replace it with a more traditional damage award. As a result, the client would get the same amount of money, but none of those awarded funds could be taxed by the government.