Punitive Damages and Personal Injury Cases in Indiana

Serious injuries lead to serious expenses and often serious life changes as well. In a single moment, your life takes a drastic turn that leads to things like the loss of wages, enormous medical expenses, extended medical needs, and other types of damages. The situation may occur from medical malpractice, a car accident, or even a defective product.

The results are the same. Someone is injured, and their lives are altered in many ways. In the case of a personal injury case, the person who was injured could seek damages for any financial losses that are related to this injury. The financial recourse is known as compensatory damages. In Indiana, you are also entitled to punitive damages.

Hiring a Carmel personal injury lawyer is the best option for your case. They can help you navigate the law and the court system to ensure that you receive the damages and compensation that you deserve.

Punitive Damages Explained

Punitive damages are defined as damages provided to a plaintiff, or victim, in order to receive justice for reckless or malicious behavior on the part of another person. The intent is to ensure the guilty party is held accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) and discouraged from ever making that mistake again.

Punitive damages are awarded in monetary means. Indiana’s policy is to award the victim 25% of any awarded punitive damages. The remainder of a settlement is awarded to the Violent Crimes Victim Compensation Fund in order to assist victims of violent crimes with various expenses they may encounter.

Awarding of Punitive Damages

As is the case with just about any legal situation, the plaintiff is tasked with proving gross negligence, fraud, reckless behavior, or malicious intent of the defendant. This means that in order to be awarded damages for your personal injury case, you will need to prove the claims you are making.

Typically, if the defendant can prove that they didn’t mean to cause harm, you will not be awarded punitive damages from this case. The plaintiff takes on the burden of proof, which is where hiring an experienced attorney will be beneficial. You and your lawyer will have to provide clear and convincing evidence of your claims.

In addition, your case will need to include an argument for why these damages are necessary on the basis of this personal injury case against the defendant.

Limitations to Punitive Damages

There are certain situations in which Indiana law does not allow you to seek punitive damages, including:

  • Wrongful death
  • Lack of willful misconduct

While those may be cause for a different type of claim, they do not fall under the limitations of punitive damages.

A wrongful death case is considered to be a civil case in the state of Indiana. These can be considered civil cases, but no punitive damages will be awarded. This has to do specifically with the Indiana statute that prohibits it.

If you have a case that doesn’t have blatant willful misconduct represented in it, then the case is not eligible for punitive damages. The intent behind punitive damages is when there is negligence or willful misconduct involved. The plaintiff needs to be able to prove that the defendant was reckless or negligent and that they knew their actions could cause injury or harm.

Punitive Damage Amounts

Indiana has limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be sought. The state law places a cap at $50,000 or up to three times the amount of compensatory damages – whichever is higher.

When a case is brought to trial, the judge is not allowed to disclose these caps to the jury, but if the jury rests on a higher amount than the limit, the judge can reduce it. The reason for this capping point is that punitive damages are designed to be something of a punishment for the defendant for doing wrong. The intent is that this will be a lesson to not repeat the error.

The law provides compensation to the victim while also providing some level of protection to the defendant, as well. Punitive damages are not guaranteed and should not be relied upon. Compensatory damages are a different matter and more likely to be “guaranteed” from a case.

Hire an Experienced Lawyer for Punitive Damage Cases

When you feel as though you have a case that is eligible for punitive damages, hire an experienced Carmel personal injury lawyer to take your case. They will be able to best advise you, as well as gather the pertinent information for the case. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to assist with compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages.

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