Tampa Personal Injury Attorney on What Constitutes Gross Negligence

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As the victim of another party’s negligence in Tampa, FL, you can claim two types of damages.

  1. Compensatory damages – They focus on you and reflect the losses and expenses you incurred.
  2. Punitive damages – They focus on the defendant. They require proving gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Punitive damages aim to punish the offender for gross negligence or wrongdoing and prevent them from doing it again. Through these damages, the court aims to set an example and deter other wrongdoers. As a result, they can reach huge amounts. However, they are quite difficult to obtain, and the process is quite lengthy. Claiming them should be left to an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney.

If you are not sure your case qualifies for punitive damages, you should consult a lawyer. Until then, reviewing the applicable laws may help.  We will do so in the following lines.

Punitive Damages, Gross Negligence, and Intentional Misconduct According to Florida Laws

Florida Statute section 768.72 sets the legal frame for claiming punitive damages. According to this law:

  • Claims for punitive damages need reasonable supporting evidence. The burden of proof falls on the claimant. They need to show that the defendant is guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
  • Gross negligence involves extremely reckless or careless behavior. The behavior should be conscious and indifferent. It should disregard the life, rights, or safety of the persons exposed to it.
  • Intentional misconduct involves behavior that the defendant knows is wrong. The claimant will have to prove the defendant knew it could cause injury or damage but did it anyway.
  • The court will review the available evidence and approve or dismiss the claim, according to the case. Only after the claim’s admission can the claimant begin to discuss financial aspects.
  • The parties will have the chance to present their arguments If the court allows a claim. The court will decide whether to grant punitive damages or not based on those.
  • It is possible to claim punitive damages from legal entities (companies, corporations, employers, etc.). The claimant will have to prove the wrongful behavior of their agent or employee. They will also have to prove the defendant’s awareness of their agent or employee’s behavior. Another option is to show that the entity itself or its management engaged in such behavior.

This is easier said than done, even for an experienced Tampa injury lawyer. Leaving the challenges of proving gross negligence aside, there are limits to how much money you can obtain.

Punitive Damage Caps or How Much Money a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Obtain

Assuming you comply with the above requirements, the law limits the amount of money you can obtain. The value of punitive damages can reach $500,000 or triple the value of compensatory damages, whichever is higher.

Thus, if you recover compensatory damages of $100,000, the punitive damages cannot exceed $500,000. In the case of $200,000 worth of compensatory damages, the punitive damages cannot exceed $600,000.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, though. An experienced Tampa injury lawyer may be able to prove that the defendant was pursuing financial gains. For intentional misconduct with financial motivation, the punitive damages cap is $2 million. There is one instance when damages can exceed this amount. It applies to cases where the value of the compensatory damages multiplied by four is higher.

These rules apply to standard cases of personal injury and product or premises liability. Exceptions apply to cases involving malpractice, wrongful death, or minors. Of course, each case has its specifics. If you would like to know exactly where you stand, you should consult a Tampa personal injury attorney.

The latter will consider all case details and available evidence and advise you accordingly. If, after the consultation, you decide to claim punitive damages, they may take over the process. Some attorneys provide free preliminary consultations, so consulting them will not cost you anything.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Burnetti, P.A. Tampa Injury Lawyer

If you are unsure your case qualifies for punitive damages, we can help for free. We can review it to see if there is any evidence of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. All you have to do is schedule a consultation with our Tampa personal injury attorney.

You can do so online or by calling 1-888-287-6388. We know how painful and costly personal injury cases can be, and we would love to help. We also believe in punishing and discouraging gross negligence and intentional misconduct. If your case qualifies, our Tampa injury lawyer will help you claim punitive damages.

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