Under What Circumstances Can Indiana Personal Injury Plaintiffs Recover Punitive Damages?
Those who have been injured as a result of another’s negligence may be able to recover various types of damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. In an Indiana personal injury case, there are two types of damages that a plaintiff may recover, compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole again. These damages often encompass economic losses that the plaintiff has suffered because of their injuries. Plaintiffs may try to recover economic and non-economic losses making a claim for compensatory damages. The most common economic damages are lost wages and medical expenses. Whereas, the most common claim for non-economic damages is for losses related to disfigurement or scarring. Also, Indiana plaintiffs may try to recover damages related to mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and property damage.
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their behavior. Generally, punitive damages are only available in cases in which defendants engaged in fraud, willful negligence, malice, or egregious conduct. Punitive damages are intended to deter the defendant from participating in the same behavior. Indiana plaintiffs injured because of particularly egregious behavior may be entitled to punitive damages.
Some examples of behavior that may lead to punitive damages are hit-and-run accidents and drunk driving crashes. Generally, in civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of establishing their case by the “greater weight of evidence.” However, if a plaintiff is demanding punitive damages, they must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that punitive damages are appropriate.
Under Indiana law, even if a plaintiff can prove that they are entitled compensatory and punitive damages, there is still a cap on the amount they can recover. Indiana Code Section 34-51-3-4 caps punitive damages in Indiana personal injury lawsuits. The statute limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages the plaintiff is entitled to or $50,000, whichever is more. Plaintiffs must retain an attorney to ensure that they are receiving all of their entitled damages.
A recent accident illustrates the type of case in which punitive damages may be appropriate. According to a local news report, an Indiana teenager caused an accident while he was under the influence of drugs and speeding. Evidently, the teenager crossed the yellow line and crashed into a 61-year-old motorist. The collision resulted in the woman’s death, and the teenager may face charges of reckless homicide and driving under the influence.
Have You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries Because of Another’s Negligence?
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of another’s negligence, you should contact Padove Law. Padove Law has over 30 years of experience handling a wide variety of personal injury lawsuits in Indiana. We have a track record of success in all types of personal injury cases, including Indiana truck accidents, car crashes, slip-and-fall accidents, and wrongful death claims. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact Padove Law at 877-446-5294 to schedule your free initial consultation.