When Are Punitive Damages Recoverable?

Scaffidi & Associates discusses when punitive damages are recoverable.

Damages are awarded to a victim who has suffered due to the negligent action or inaction of another. In civil litigation, compensatory damages are awarded in an attempt to make the plaintiff whole. This means compensatory damages would cover things such as medical care, loss of income, loss of earning ability, and pain and suffering. The aim of compensatory damages is to, as best as possible, put the plaintiff in the position he or she should have been, had it not been for the negligent actions of the defendant.

Punitive damages, while awarded to the plaintiff, are much different from compensatory damages. Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages, but the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff, but to punish the defendant. If the court wishes to make an example out of the defendant in order to deter others from particularly egregious behavior, then punitive damages may be awarded.

When Are Punitive Damages Recoverable?

The standard to meet in order for punitive damages to be recoverable is very high. They are considered to be an extraordinary remedy available in very rare cases. New York case law has shed some light on the standard that must be met for punitive damages to be awarded. The defendant does not need to have purposefully injured the plaintiff. There does, however, need to be evidence of gross negligence and even malice that caused the incident resulting in injury to the plaintiff. Negligence is not enough. It has to be shown that the defendant acted in a way that was in complete disregard for the health and safety of others. While this is not an impossible standard to meet, it is still a high one and one that courts tend to scrutinize the facts to see if it has been reached.

Helping Injury Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve

While punitive damages may be an extraordinary remedy, compensatory damages are available to victims who have been injured due to the negligent actions of another. Scaffidi & Associates will work tirelessly to help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Contact us today.

Posted in: Personal Injury Law


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