What Are Punitive Damages, and What Role Do They Play in a Wrongful Death Case?


What Are Punitive Damages, and What Role Do They Play in a Wrongful Death Case?

When it comes to wrongful death cases, there are plenty of terms you need to know in order to recover the damages you deserve—and, unfortunately, you may not be in the headspace to study up on them. While your injury lawyer will certainly do the heavy lifting and shepherd you through the process, this still might be disconcerting. After all, you want to do your loved one justice and participate actively in the case.

JD Haas, your Minneapolis team of wrongful death lawyers, is here to help. With our compassionate approach to legal pursuits—an approach that directs everything we do—we’ll see your case through to the end, as well as provide you with the necessary information to do so. Below, you’ll learn about punitive damages: what they are, how to get them, and how they may affect your case.

Punitive Damages Defined

It’s easier to understand this term if we break it apart. “Punitive” means “for the purpose of punishment.” “Damages,” according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, “refers to the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right.” So, punitive damages, then, refer to monetary compensation awarded as a punishment for the opposing party’s wrongdoing.

The word punishment implies some pretty nasty stuff, but in the eyes of the law, punitive damages exist as a deterrent—they’re an additional consequence that discourages the wrongdoer from repeating their actions.

How Punitive Damages Affect Wrongful Death Cases

If you’ve kept up with our personal injury lawyer blog, you’ll know that wrongful death cases have a variety of damages that can be recovered, such as medical bills and pain and suffering. Punitive damages exist outside of any of these “standard” damages as an entirely separate category.

They are also never awarded alone, so if you’re in the middle of a wrongful death case, pay attention to the other factors, too. The Cornell Law School states that roughly five percent of all cases receive this type of damage.

How Punitive Damages Are Awarded

When deciding whether or not to award these “extra” damages, the court looks at many things, according to The Legal Dictionary; a few include “how egregious or reprehensible the defendant’s actions were” and “whether similar cases ended with punitive damages being awarded.” This second item refers to the concept of “precedent,” or a pre-existing legal decision from a past court case.

JD Haas: Wrongful Death Attorneys Here to Help You

Our team of injury attorneys is ready to hear your case. Reach our Minneapolis office now at (952) 234-2925. In addition to Minneapolis, we also serve Rochester, Bloomington, and Saint Paul.

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