Damages are the remedy a civil court gives injured victims to compensate them for their losses. Compensatory damages include compensation for financial losses (economic damages) and pain and suffering (non-economic damages). In very limited situations, injured parties can receive punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages.
What Are Punitive Damages in a Baton Rouge Personal Injury Case?
Punitive damages are non-compensatory damages. They are not meant to compensate the victim for losses. Instead, punitive damages are awarded against a defendant (at-fault party) in a personal injury trial. The punitive damages “punish” the defendant for certain types of behavior.
Even though punitive damages do not compensate the injured party for losses, the court can order the punitive damages paid to the injured party. Unfortunately, Louisiana law only allows punitive damages to be awarded in a very limited number of personal injury cases.
Examples of cases where punitive damages might be awarded include, but are not limited to:
Punitive Damages for a Baton Rouge Drunk Driving Accident
Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.4 provides punitive damages in some DUI accident cases. The law requires a plaintiff to prove that their injuries were the result of the defendant:
- Displaying a reckless or wanton disregard for the safety and rights of others;
- While operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and,
- The intoxication was a cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injuries.
If you prove your case, the jury could award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. However, as with a DUI case, proving the driver was drunk is insufficient to recover damages. You must also prove that the drunk driver caused the crash and you sustained damages because of the auto accident.
Punitive Damages for Child Pornography in Louisiana
A child injured because of child pornography could receive punitive damages in a civil action under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.3. The damages can be awarded even though the state did not prosecute the defendant for their actions.
Punitive Damages for Criminal Sexual Activity Involving a Child
Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.7 provides punitive damages for a child injured by criminal sexual activity. The child must have been seventeen years old or younger when the act was committed. The law applies only to the person who committed the criminal sexual act, and it does not require the state to prosecute the person for punitive damages to be awarded in a civil lawsuit.
Punitive Damages for Domestic Abuse in Louisiana
Victims of domestic abuse could receive punitive damages under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.8. The acts of domestic abuse must have resulted in serious bodily injury or severe mental and emotional distress. As with the other cases for punitive damages, the defendant does not need to be prosecuted by the state for punitive damages to be awarded.
Punitive Damages for Hazing Deaths in Baton Rouge, LA
Punitive damages can be awarded if hazing results in death under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.10. As with the other causes of action for punitive damages listed above, the defendant does not need to be prosecuted for a crime for a jury to award punitive damages. Additionally, as with the other situations, the defendant must have acted with reckless and wanton disregard for the safety and rights of others.
How Do Juries Decide Whether To Award Punitive Damages in a Baton Rouge Personal Injury Case?
Even though punitive damages might be allowed by law, the damages are not guaranteed. A jury must determine that the evidence proves punitive damages are justified. Then, the jury must decide whether to award the punitive damages and, if so, how much to award.
Jurors often consider factors including, but not limited to:
- The seriousness of the defendant’s wrongful acts
- The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries and harm
- The likelihood that the defendant will commit the same offense or wrongful acts again.
- The defendant’s resources, assets, and income.
At-fault parties and their insurance providers rarely agree to pay punitive damages for a personal injury settlement. However, an experienced Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer will argue that the facts of the case could result in a punitive damage award if the case goes to trial.
Depending on the circumstances, the threat of punitive damages could encourage the other parties to agree to a higher settlement amount to avoid going to court with the chance a jury could punish the at-fault party for their wrongful acts.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Baton Rouge Personal Injury Lawyers
At Palmintier Law Group, our lawyers thoroughly analyze each element and factor in your case to determine the damages you are entitled to by law. We work to maximize recovery of all damages to put as much money in your pocket as possible. Contact our law office to schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced Baton Rouge personal injury attorney.