When plaintiffs seek personal injury damages after an accident, it’s often that those damages are compensatory in nature. Compensatory damages redress losses resulting from their accident and injuries. But the fact is in some cases where a judge determines the actions or the neglect of a defendant are particularly egregious, they may award punitive damages to address that.

(Understanding the Ramifications of Signing Away Your Rights to Compensation in a Personal Injury Claim)

Punitive damages, also knowns as “exemplary damages,” are levied to make a point, to punish a defendant for misconduct and to also potentially deter future offenders from the same activity. Punitive damages often serve as an example to potentially prevent the same behavior or to serve as a president should the kind of actions or neglect again take place.

Punitive damages are rarely awarded as proving malice or intent when these kinds of accidents occur can be quite difficult. However, when it is awarded it is definitely meant to send a message. One kind of claim where punitive damages are seen is drunk driving accidents where severe harm has resulted.

The amount of punitive damages levied may depend upon the level of neglect, misconduct or malice and also the financial status of the defendant. There is currently no cap for punitive damages in Illinois. 

For instance, a drunk driver may be hit with damages hinging on both the nature of the misconduct and the economic status of the driver.

As with any personal injury claim, it’s always very important that plaintiffs document all of the facts in their claim. All of the facts of your claim impact your possible damages. Likewise, thorough investigation helps to uncover elements that may impact your claim and damages. For instance, a dog bite attack may result in an award for medical damages. But with further investigation, it may be discovered that the owner understood their dog to be dangerous with a history of violent attacks. A court could find that the owner acted with extreme malice or negligence in allowing their dog off-leash in a highly excitable environment like a dog park, which preceded the attack. That could give rise to punitive damages.

It’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney that has experience and the resources to conduct appropriate investigations to uncover relevant facts in your case, leaving no stone uncovered and no dollar amount on the table. The attorneys of Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago offer a wide array of personal injury experience as well as a wealth of experience recovering large awards in personal injury claims for our clients.

If you have questions about a claim or an accident and want to learn more about your options, call our offices at 773.881.9000. The first consultation is free and we don’t collect a fee unless we recover damages for you.