You’ve heard of the term ‘punitive damages.’ It’s used most often in big lawsuits. But did you know that it’s rare for plaintiffs who take their cases to court to receive punitive damages? Well, your lawyer will tell you that! The defendant will have had to have messed up big time for you to even hope about getting punitive damages in most instances.
Your personal injury lawyer in Oakville will tell you that the courts will award you punitive damages in the attempt to punish the defendant for his or her negligent actions or behaviors. It doesn’t matter if they were unintentional.
What exactly are punitive damages?
Your lawyer will tell you that if the courts are going to award you punitive damages, it’s not going to be because of a specific injury or specific damage that you sustained. The reason is because they’re not meant to compensate you in any way for your personal injury accident. Therefore, you tend to only get punitive damages if you can prove that the defendant was guilty of gross negligence.
How does the law define gross negligence?
Personal injury lawyers know that personal injury law defines gross negligence as careless or reckless conduct or behavior that knowingly puts others at danger or risk of danger. You must be able to prove that the defendant was guilty of violating a duty of care towards you with his or her behavior or actions.
You can indeed sue government employees and agencies/entities for gross negligence. They lose their immunity if you can prove that they were guilty of gross negligence.
Gross negligence and waivers
You generally sign a waiver of your rights when you knowingly engage in risky behavior like signing up for paragliding courses. However, this is not legal. If the company is guilty of gross negligence, the courts will recognize this.
Limitations on punitive damages
Some states place limits or caps on the total amount of money the courts can award you for punitive damages. You can’t receive punitive damages that are greater than $500,000 or three times the amount the courts ordered the plaintiff(s) to give you for cumulative damages.
Sanctions for lack of reasonable basis
You have to have a good and provable/tangible reason for suing someone for punitive damages. Did you know that you can actually be punished by the courts if you sue someone for punitive damages but can’t prove it?
While the concept of punitive damages may seem easy, it’s really not. It can be hard to identify and prove. That’s why you need to hire a good lawyer to help you if you’re serious about winning your case in court.