Punitive Damages in Florida Personal Injury Cases

When someone is injured due to the negligent or intentional conduct of another person, the victim is entitled to file a Florida personal injury claim against the person or people they believe to be responsible for their injuries. If successful, an accident victim can recover compensation for their injuries.Compensation awards in personal injury cases are broken down into different categories. For example, the most common category of personal injury damages is called compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to put the plaintiff back into the position where they were before the accident. Medical expenses, lost wages, and a decrease in one’s quality of life are all categories of compensatory damages. Since these damages are designed to make the plaintiff “whole” again, the focus is on the victim, rather than the conduct of the defendant.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, focus on the defendant’s conduct that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Punitive damages are rare and can be significant – sometimes reaching into the tens of millions of dollars. These damages are designed to deter parties from engaging in the type of conduct that resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. As a result, punitive damages focus on the defendant’s conduct, rather than the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Punitive damages are rare and generally are not appropriate when mere negligence is alleged. Normally, there must be a showing of intentional conduct or recklessness in order for a court to consider punitive damages.

A recent opinion in a nursing home abuse lawsuit illustrates the type of conduct for which punitive damages may be appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case were three daughters whose mother was a resident in the defendant nursing home. The plaintiffs began to suspect that some of their mother’s belongings were going missing, so they installed a hidden camera in their mother’s room. The camera documented several incidents of abuse. For example, one clip showed several nurses hitting the plaintiff’s mother in the face with a rubber glove and then stuffing the glove in her mouth.

The case proceeded to trial, where the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $1.2 million in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. The defendants appealed, but the court upheld the jury’s award amount, finding that the conduct at issue rose above mere negligence and that punitive damages were appropriate.

Is Your Loved One in Danger?

If you have a loved one in a South Florida nursing home, and you believe that they may have been subject to abuse or neglect, contact one of the dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank. It may be that you or your loved one have a case for damages against the nursing home employees responsible for the maltreatment of your loved one. The skilled Florida personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have decades of combined experience representing victims and their families in nursing home abuse and neglect cases, and they know what it takes to be successful on their clients’ behalf. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Damages in South Florida Car Accidents, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 21, 2017.

Nursing Home Claims Privilege in Face of Plaintiff’s Discovery Request, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 5, 2017.

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