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Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages in Florida – What’s the Difference?

February 17, 2023
Personal Injury

Types of Compensation You May Receive After an Accident

If you are involved in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation. To receive compensation for your accident–related losses you will need to file a claim for damages based on personal injury. Two kinds of damages may be awarded based on the circumstances of your case: compensatory and punitive damages.

At Mase Briggs Seitz, we represent individuals who have been seriously injured in accidents throughout South Florida. Our dedicated legal team can help you determine how much your claim is worth, including the types of damages that you may receive. If you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s wrongdoing, contact our office at (305) 487-8863 to schedule a free consultation.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate an injured party for their losses. Compensatory damages may include both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are out-of-pocket expenses and are generally easy to calculate. Non-economic losses are less concrete and may require expert testimony to quantify.

Examples of compensatory damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium 

While compensatory damages are the most common type of damages awarded, they are not guaranteed. The best way to determine how much you should ask for in compensatory damages is by retaining a personal injury lawyer.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are less common and only awarded under certain conditions. Punitive damages are designed to punish a liable party for their wrongdoing. They are also designed to prevent the type of behavior or conduct that caused the harm from happening in the future. 

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?

Under Florida law, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a liable party was “personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”

In order to prove intentional misconduct it must be shown that the defendant not only had actual knowledge that the conduct was wrong but also understood the “high probability that injury or damage” would occur. Furthermore, it must be found that despite knowing the dangers associated with the conduct, the defendant still engaged in the activity resulting in injury or damage.

Gross negligence is defined by state law as conduct that is “so reckless or wanting in care” that it displays a “conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights” of another person.

Are There Caps on Punitive Damages?

Florida places certain caps or limits on how much a person may be awarded in punitive damages. State law limits punitive damages to the greater of no more than 3x the amount of compensatory damages awarded to a plaintiff or the sum of $500,000.

There are limited exceptions to the cap including if a fact finder determines that the liable party had a “specific intent to harm” the injured party.

Injured in an Accident? Contact Our Office.

Were you or a loved one injured in an accident in South Florida? Contact our office at (305) 487-8863 to schedule a free consultation. We have secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injury victims throughout the state. Call now to discuss your case directly with a member of our legal team. 

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Mase Seitz Briggs
2601 South Bayshore Drive
Suite 800
Miami, FL 33133

Phone: 305-487-8863
Toll Free: 1-844-904-1749
Fax: 305-377-0080
1200 N Federal Hwy
Suite 200
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Phone: 561-210-8516
Fax: 561-210-8301
*Available by Appointment*
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