Last time, we left off discussing the topic of punitive damages. As we noted, the goal of building a damages case is to maximize the plaintiff’s damages, and this requires carefully establishing entitlement to all damages the plaintiff is seeking, including punitive damages.
Entitlement to punitive damages is, in some ways, even more important to establish because it is ordinarily more difficult to do so compared to compensatory damages. For one thing, punitive damage are only potentially awarded in cases where there is gross misconduct, want or willful fraud, dishonesty, or malice. The idea is that the plaintiff’s behavior was marked by significant moral failing.
Because entitlement to punitive damages is typically based on proving either intention to harm or engage in negligence, it is not an easy avenue for recovery. Although entitlement to punitive damages is not easy to establish, punitive damages may still be awarded in cases where a plaintiff suffers only minimal damage. In other words, there is no requirement that a plaintiff must be awarded a certain amount of compensatory damages before entitlement to punitive damages kicks in.
With any type of damages, whether it is compensatory, punitive or another type, providing solid evidence is critical. Working with an experienced attorney ensures that a plaintiff brings forward the best possible evidence at trial and is able to effectively handle the defendant’s attempts to minimize entitlement to damages. Those who suffer brain and spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident owe it to themselves to work with a zealous advocate who will work to ensure they have the strongest possible damages case.