In addition to the damages discussed on the previous pages (called compensatory damages), a jury or Judge may also choose to impose punitive damages. Punitive damages are not directly linked to the claimants’ damages, but are instead designed to punish the defendant as well as deter others from behaving in a similar fashion.
These damages are not awarded frequently, and are appropriate when a defendant’s intentional misconduct or grossly negligent actions result in a wrongful death. Wrongful death attorneys can help walk you through your case to determine if punitive damages apply.
In Florida, caps limit punitive damages. Florida Stat. sec. 768.73 dictates that, in most circumstances, the cap is three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to each claimant, or $500,000.00. This of course is the law that applies in communities such as Tampa, Winter Haven and Lakeland. The infrequent occurring exception to the caps occurs if a Judge or jury finds that the defendant specifically intended to harm the claimant and determines that the defendant’s behavior did in fact harm the claimant. Absent this finding, one of the caps discussed in Fla. Stat. sec. 768.73 applies.