Courts in Florida award a variety of different types of damages to successful personal injury plaintiffs. “Damages”, or monetary compensation awarded to a harmed plaintiff (i.e. the injured party who files a personal injury lawsuit) typically come in two forms: compensatory damages and punitive damages. This article outlines the various types of compensatory damages and punitive damages that Florida courts commonly award in personal injury cases, however, each case is unique and for case specific information it is imperative that you consult with a local personal injury lawyer.
Compensatory damages are awarded in personal injury cases in order to help make the injured plaintiff “whole again”. In other words, these damages are intended to put the injured party back in the position that they would have been in had the injury never occurred. Unfortunately, money can not always adequately compensate an injured individual, but keep in mind that this is the goal of compensatory damages. And in an effort to achieve this goal, courts in Florida award both economic and noneconomic compensatory damages.
- Economic Damages: Economic damages (also referred to as “monetary damages”) reimburse the injured plaintiff for their financial losses. Personal injury plaintiffs in Florida are often awarded economic damages as compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, rehabilitation and medication costs, etc.
- Noneconomic Damages: On the other hand, noneconomic damages (also referred to as “nonmonetary damages”) are awarded in order to compensate an injured individual for their losses that were not financial in nature. For example, noneconomic damages are often awarded for pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, mental anguish, etc. While courts in Florida often award noneconomic damages in personal injury cases, keep in mind that these damages can be much more difficult to prove than economic damages.
Compensatory damages differ significantly from punitive damages as the former are meant to compensate the injured party while the latter is meant to punish the wrongdoer. When a court awards punitive damages in Florida it does so because the defendant misbehaved in a particularly egregious manner, either via extreme recklessness or an intentional act. Courts do not often award punitive damages in personal injury cases, but when they do their intent is to deter both the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
While each state handles punitive damages a bit differently, Florida law caps the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in personal injury cases. Under section 768.73 of the Florida Statutes, punitive damages may not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to each claimant, or $500,000, whichever is greater. However, if the court finds that the defendant’s actions were motivated solely by unreasonable financial gain it may award punitive damages in the amount of $2 million, or four times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to each claimant, whichever is greater.
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Anyone who has been injured in Florida due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness should be aware that they may be legally entitled to compensation and that filing a personal injury lawsuit is often the best way to pursue these funds. The experienced personal injury lawyers of Piccin & Glynn Lawyers at Law would be happy to discuss your legal options with you during a free consultation. Contact our Ocala office today at 352-558-8480.