Pursuing Punitive Damages After A Personal Injury

June 13, 2019 | By O'Connor Acciani & Levy
Pursuing Punitive Damages After A Personal Injury

If you have been in an accident caused by someone else’s recklessness, you may have the option to pursue punitive damages for the injuries they caused you. Learn more about punitive damages and how you may be able to pursue them below. If you have been injured due to someone else’s reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our Cincinnati personal injury attorneys now for a free, no obligation consultation.

What Are Punitive Damages?

In a civil case, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant (at-fault party) for his or her extreme, deplorable behavior. The purpose of awarding punitive damages is to deter the defendant from more reckless behavior in the future by punishing him or her for wrongdoing that led to the victim’s injury. These damages are not meant to compensate the victim for his or her losses, as compensatory damages do, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are also taxable to the victim. There is no specific formula used to determine the value of punitive damages. Some states even consider punitive damages unconstitutional as they violate a defendant’s right to due process. Courts usually focus on determining a proportionate ratio between punitive and compensatory damages to ensure a punitive damage award is not unreasonable. To determine the amount of punitive damages to award, courts typically consider the following factors:
  • How offensive the defendant’s actions were leading up to the injury
  • The likelihood that severe harm would result from the defendant’s misconduct
  • Attempts to conceal misconduct by the defendant
  • Whether the defendant put a stop to misconduct once discovered
  • The presence of serious psychological or emotional injuries, which are difficult to prove in court
  • The relationship between actual damages awarded and punitive damages
  • The differences between a punitive award and related civil punishments
  • Comparison to similar cases where punitive damages have been included in the compensation award
In general, the more offensive the defendant’s conduct is in the matter, the higher the punitive damage award.

When Can Punitive Damages Be Pursued?

Punitive damages are not typically pursuable except in the most severe situations. These situations include:
  • The defendant was grossly negligent in his or her actions
  • The defendant acted with a gross disregard to the safety of other people
  • The defendant acted with intent to harm
  • Fraud was the motivation for the defendant’s negligence

Examples Of Punitive Damage Lawsuits

While punitive damages are only awarded in the most extreme cases, there are several types of lawsuits where seeking these damages may be appropriate. Your personal injury lawyer is experienced in these claims and can determine if punitive damages should be sought.
  • Product liability claims involving defective products, where a victim was injured because the manufacturer knowingly made a product that was dangerous and failed to properly warn consumers.
  • Product liability claims where companies intentionally misled consumers to continue using a product while knowing the product’s dangers.
  • Medical malpractice claims where a victim suffered severe injuries due to an unlicensed medical professional’s incorrect diagnosis.
  • Defective drug claims where the drug manufacturer took action to hide the risk of severe side effects associated with taking the medication.

Ohio Laws And Caps On Punitive Damages

Ohio has placed legal caps on the amount of punitive damages victims may be awarded in a case. The limit on punitive damages in Ohio is twice the amount of the compensatory damages. For example, if the case’s compensatory damages equal $100,000, the punitive damage award is capped at $200,000. For cases against defendants who are individuals or small employers, punitive damages can only amount to twice the compensatory damages or 10 percent of the defendant’s net worth, whichever amount is smaller. However, punitive damages in these cases are capped at $350,000.

Speak To A Skilled Lawyer Now

Our Cincinnati personal injury lawyers have years of experience helping victims recover the damages they deserve from reckless individuals. If you have been injured because of someone else’s wrongdoing, we will work aggressively to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Request a free, no obligation consultation today and learn your legal rights. There are no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover compensation for you.