Are you taking another person or business to court after suffering serious injuries or loss? Did that person or company act with extreme negligence, despite knowing that it could result in someone being hurt or killed?
If you have answered yes to the questions above, then there is a chance that the court would consider assessing punitive damages in your case.
In some instances, courts will award the plaintiff more than he or she has requested and, in most cases, those extra funds are awarded as punitive damages.
This type of legal punishment is made when a judge feels that the defendant went above and beyond normal negligent behavior. The court finds the defendant guilty of a malicious act made despite knowledge that the action had the potential to inflict harm on others.
This has been seen in lawsuits over product malfunctions. For instance, a company may have reason to believe that a particular product that they sell has a faulty component that could cause it to combust. There would, obviously, be concern that someone would be harmed if near enough to the product at the time that combustion occurred.
If the company still went ahead and marketed the product without fixing the defect and without warning the public, it would likely be considered a malicious act. Should a person be seriously injured or killed as a result, the courts might find that the company needs to pay a hefty fine to deter it and other organizations from making similar decisions in the future.
While punitive damages are not commonly awarded, if the facts of your case suggest that the defendant acted with disregard for your well-being, then there is a chance that the court might consider awarding a sum above and beyond what has been outlined as economic and non-economic damages.