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Understanding Punitive Damages In Pennsylvania

July 22, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

After an accident, many people know that they can file a claim against the negligent party to recover damages such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. These types of damages are known as compensatory damages because they are intended to compensate you financially and make you whole again. Another, rarer, type of damages is also sometimes available in personal injury claims, and those are punitive damages.

Punitive damages can greatly increase the value of a personal injury claim, but they are largely misunderstood. If you are filing a personal injury claim, our personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia explain these types of damages below.

What are Punitive Damages?

Plaintiffs in personal injury lawyers may be awarded punitive damages when the other party’s conduct is willful, malicious, wanton, or rises to another level that warrants punitive damages. Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages because they are not meant to compensate accident victims. Instead, they are intended to deter the defendant from acting in the same manner in the future, so no one else becomes hurt.

Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury claims because these cases usually rely on negligence. Negligence by its very nature is not intentional and so, these claims do not usually warrant punitive damages. However, when they are awarded, they can add thousands or millions of dollars to the total amount of compensation recovered.

When are Punitive Damages Awarded?

No one can say with certainty whether punitive damages will be awarded in any one personal injury claim, particularly before they have reviewed the facts of the case. Still, there are some common examples of when punitive damages are awarded, and they include:

  • Cases that include pharmaceutical companies that sold its product, such as Zofran or Zoloft, while knowing of the dangers of it
  • Drunk driving cases in which another person became seriously injured or killed
  • Medical malpractice cases that involved intentional wrongdoing or gross negligence
  • Dog bite cases in which the owner of the animal allowed or provoked the dog to bite or attack the victim

The above are just a few of the most common examples in which punitive damages are awarded. Sometimes, the threat of seeking punitive damages is enough for defendants to negotiate a fair settlement offer prior to trial. On the other hand, sometimes going to trial is the only way to recover the damages you deserve after an accident, including those that are punitive in nature.

Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia Can Help You Claim Full Damages

If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, carelessness, or wanton disregard for others safety, ourPhiladelphia personal injury lawyers are here to help. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our seasoned attorneys can advise on the full damages available in your case, and will aggressively pursue them from the negligent party so you obtain the fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.


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