It only takes a moment for an accident to occur, but the consequences of that moment can last a lifetime. Many results are entirely preventable, whether due to a car crash, a truck accident, or a slip and fall.

Drivers, business owners, and property owners in Nevada all have a responsibility to protect the safety of others. When someone intentionally, maliciously, or recklessly ignores their responsibility to keep others safe and injures another person, the victim has the right to hold the wrongdoer accountable by seeking additional compensation in the form of punitive damages that go beyond money to cover their losses.

Suppose you believe you have suffered harm due to another party’s willful or malicious actions in Nevada. In that case, it is best to consult an experienced lawyer about the possibility of pursuing punitive damages.

At Sam & Ash Injury Law, we serve clients in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. So you’ll be at ease when you come to us for help. Our personable, down-to-earth team operates on a first-name basis. We are here to help you with your personal injury punitive damages case because we believe you deserve What’s Right.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Sam and Ash

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded in personal injury cases in rare circumstances. Rather than compensating victims for specific losses, punitive damages are meant to punish wrongdoers and discourage similar behavior in the future. For example, the courts sometimes order punitive damages when there is proof of malicious or willful misconduct, gross negligence, or fraud.

In such cases, the court could determine that payment of a standard compensation award is inadequate and order an additional punitive damages award to punish the wrongdoer. The value of punitive damages awarded can vary depending on the specifics of each case.

Punitive damage awards primarily aim to punish the responsible party for extremely negligent, reckless, or malicious behavior, thereby setting an example that discourages others from repeating similar conduct.

How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?

Every personal injury case is different, and numerous factors could affect the value of the punitive damages you could be awarded, such as:

  • The level of harm caused by the responsible party. For example, were your injuries catastrophic? Will you be able to return to your everyday life after recovery? Were there any fatalities?
  • The amount of property damage resulting from the incident.
  • The level of income and or wealth of the responsible party. For example, if the responsible party is a business owner, they might have to pay punitive damages proportional to their assets, whereas someone with few assets might not be required to pay such a high sum.

Punitive Damages Laws in Nevada

Under Nevada law, you could be awarded punitive damages if you can show that the responsible party acted with malice, oppression, or fraudulent intent. For your case to qualify for punitive damages, you must prove that the responsible party’s conduct was worse than a typical negligence case. That means the responsible party’s actions are the most important consideration in punitive damages determinations, regardless of how severe your injuries were.

The Cap on Punitive Damages

In Nevada, there is no cap on a punitive damages award if your case involves:

  • A vendor or manufacturer of a defective product
  • An insurance company that acts in bad faith
  • A person who is in breach of state or federal laws banning discriminatory housing practices
  • Defamation, such as libel or slander
  • Injuries from the spillage, improper disposal, or emissions of toxic or hazardous materials
  • A vehicle accident caused by an intoxicated driver

Otherwise, the most you can get in punitive damages is usually $300,000 if your compensatory damages award is less than $100,000. However, if your compensatory damages award is $100,000 or greater, the most you can get in punitive damages is three times the value of your compensatory damages.

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Differences Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

If you’re making a personal injury claim in Nevada, it’s essential to understand the difference between compensatory and punitive damages. If the court rules in favor, you could receive compensatory damages. The two types of compensatory damages are:

  • Special damages – The purpose of special compensatory damages is to cover any economic losses you have incurred due to the accident – for example, medical expenses and lost income due to time off work.
  • General damages – General compensatory damages cover non-economic losses you have incurred due to the accident – for example, emotional distress, pain, suffering, and lost quality of life.

To prove the responsible party is liable for compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney only needs to show that they acted negligently or carelessly under the circumstances. However, for punitive damages to be awarded, your attorney must show that the responsible party acted with extreme recklessness, oppression, or malicious or fraudulent intent.

How Punitive Damages Work in Nevada

To obtain punitive damages in Nevada, your attorney must prove that the responsible party harmed you through oppression, fraud, malice, or conscious disregard for your safety. Understanding the legal definitions of these terms and meeting the burden of proof for punitive damages can be challenging. That’s why working with an experienced attorney in this area of the law is essential.

An Explanation of Punitive Damages Terms

Below are some key terms regarding a punitive damages claim in Nevada. To obtain a punitive damages award, you must prove that the at-fault party acted with one or more of the following:

  • Malice – the intent to cause injury or disregard the rights or safety of others
  • Conscious disregard – intentional failure to avoid or prevent harmful acts
  • Oppression – deliberate intent to subject others to hardship
  • Fraud – deception or misrepresentation of information intended to injure the rights or property of others

Are Punitive Damages Available in Workplace Injury Claims?

In some cases, yes, but you usually cannot sue your employer directly if they provide workers’ compensation coverage. However, you could file a claim against a liable third party after a work accident. In that case, you could seek punitive damages in your third-party claim. An attorney can help you identify all possible sources of compensation after a workplace injury, including punitive damages from a third-party claim.

Examples of Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases

A real-life example of personal injury punitive damages is Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants from 1994. Stella Liebeck sustained third-degree burns after spilling the coffee on her lap. McDonald’s routinely served their coffee at 180-190 degrees. As a result, the skin can develop third-degree burns within three to seven seconds.

At the time of the case, more than 600 other McDonald’s customers had also reported suffering burns from the coffee. The court awarded Stella Liebeck $3 million in punitive damages as the court reasoned that McDonald’s had shown “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”

Talk to a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer to Get Punitive Damages in Your Case

If you got hurt because of someone else’s reckless, malicious, or fraudulent behavior in Nevada, you deserve the opportunity to demand they pay you for the harm they caused you – including potential punitive damages. Making a case for punitive damages is a complex process that can sometimes be confusing. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.

When you have Sam & Ash Injury Law represent you in court, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands. You won’t have to deal with the stress of completing paperwork or following court procedures because we will do it for you every step of the way. Let us help you demand the justice and money you deserve. You deserve What’s Right.

Contact us today to discuss your options for seeking punitive damages in a Nevada personal injury lawsuit.

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