Category Archives: what are Punitive Damages

Determining Punitive Damages

What are punitive damages

Punitive damages explanation

Punitive damages are monetary damages that are awarded in some special cases, were the court feels that the defendant needs to be awarded with an extra punishment. These are usually awarded on top of the damages that are awarded as a compensation for the victims. These damages are meant as a punishment for the guilty party and hence the name, “punitive” damages.

What are punitive damages?

It has already been mentioned that punitive damages are meant as a punishment for the defendants. These damages are awarded to deter any future wrongdoers. It is not meant to compensate for the losses suffered by the victim. Determining the punitive damages in a case is a difficult process. In most cases, the determination of such punitive damages has lead to widespread discontent.

There are some basic concepts that the court keeps in mind before deciding upon the punitive damages that are to be awarded in a particular case. Here are some points that the courts use in order to determine the amount that the defendants are required to pay as punitive damages in a case.

Degree of seriousness of the defendant’s act is one of the most basic criteria for determining the punitive damages that are involved in a case. If a person tries to sell a health supplement that resulted in the patient contracting a deadly disease, then that person would have to pay up a bigger punitive damage than a person who sold a partially repainted car as new.

punishment for the guilty

            defining punitive damages

Another guideline that is usually followed by courts to determine the punitive damages are the ratio to compensatory damages. If the damages that were awarded as compensation for the losses were high enough, then there is a chance that the punitive damages can reach an even higher figure.

The courts will refer to past cases and conducts for calculating a reasonable punitive damage. There will be similar acts and conducts that occurred long ago and the courts can refer to them for comparing the present case that they are working on. By comparing past cases and conducts, the court will be able to reach a decision regarding the punitive damages.

So, if anyone was to ask you, “what are punitive damages?”, I am sure that you will have a good answer to come up with. These points on punitive damages will help you in understanding about a complex part of the legal system in our country.

Punitive Damages For Medical Malpractice

What are punitive damages

           Medical malpractice and Punitive damages

Dr. Graham heaved a heavy sigh. It was that part of the year again. He was confronted by the curious and frightened looking eyes of his new interns, and they were waiting for him to give his first speech. Although he had been doing this for years now, he always took a moment or two to think of where to start from. Well, let it be different this time, he thought. He would start by giving them a little advice, something that would not only save them from a lot of trouble, but also give them an idea about the consequences if they were to engage in any sort of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractices

The effect of medical malpractices is far reaching, especially since it is a profession that deals with the physical well-being of the people that are involved. It may even end up costing a man his life, which may result in a family losing its support. Dr. Graham was still not convinced that his new interns grasped the seriousness to the point he was making. He could almost hear them thinking, “Just another old doctor giving his old advice…why isn’t he getting to the point and giving us some real medical advice?”.

However, he knew the importance of being aware of some legal matters when it came to working the medical profession. He kept going despite the disappointed looks. They were clearly expecting some medical marvel to be unveiled.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are monetary damages that are awarded to a plaintiff on top of the damages that are given to him or her for the losses suffered. These damages are not meant as compensation for the injury, but as a punishment to the perpetrator. As far as the new interns were concerned, this concept needed to be driven home, Dr. Graham knew. Most of them were already fidgeting, some of them suddenly highly interested in the garbage cans that could be seen out the window. If this was anything to go by, he knew they needed to hear what he was saying. And so he stopped feeling guilty about giving them what was probably the bore of their lives, and after some time into the speech, a majority had started listening.

Negligent actions

                         Punitive damages explained

Negligent actions by medical professionals are likely to result in serious injuries, and consequently in lawsuits. It is, therefore, important that these interns be aware at least of some legal terms, and instead of asking questions such as “what are punitive damages?”, know what their actions could entail.

Determining The Punitive Damages

What are punitive damages

                   Punitive damages explained

Punitive damages are those damages that are needed to be paid by the guilty if the court or the jury deems so. These damages are not meant to cover the losses suffered by the victim, and are meant as a punishment fine for the guilty person. It is needed to be noted that there is no single standard that are applied for finding out the amount of punitive damages that are needed to be paid. So, what are punitive damages? Does every person, who is guilty of a crime is required to pay these damages? The answers to these questions, and more, are given below.

Calculating the punitive damages

As mentioned earlier, there is no single standard that can be used for finding out the punitive damages involved in a case. It is solely left to the discretion of the court. If a court feels that the actions of the defendant in a case were such that it sends a wrong message to the society regarding the social values, then the court can fine the defendant punitive damages. If the defendant was to lead a life that endangered the life of other people in the society, then the court can demand the defendant to pay up the punitive damages as a way of punishment. It is meant to serve the purpose of a message, to the others who are planning to pursue such anti-social activities.

What are punitive damages?

By now, you must have acquired a decent knowledge regarding punitive damages. They are meant to act as a sort of punishment, which is monetary in nature. These sort of monetary punishments are not handed out in each case, but only in special cases.

Arguing for awarding punitive damages

If you are an attorney who is arguing for punitive damages for your client, then these following tips will be very useful for you.

  • You would be required to remind the jury that all the defendants tend to show signs of deceptive remorse. Since they have been caught already, they have no other choice rather than to act like they sincerely regret their actions. Explain to the jury that the defendant will return to his old ways once he is released without receiving any punishments.

    Anti-social activities

                  Short note on punitive damages

  • Request the jury to send a message to potential criminals by giving the defendant an adequate punishment.

These are some of the points that will help you in understanding the subject better. Remember that punitive damages are awarded only in special cases.

Different Damages That Can Be Claimed Under An ADA Violation

What are punitive damages

               ADA violation and punitive damages

The American With Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, allows victims to claim damages for a variety of different reasons. This article gives you a list of the different allowable damages that can be claimed under this act:

Back pay:

The term back pay refers to the wages that the victim should have received had there not been an ADA violation. This can be the wages that he/she would have been paid, had he been allowed to continue work instead of having to leave. It could also be the increase in wages that he would have been entitled to had he been given a promotion instead of being denied it. The damages include wages, as well as benefits applicable at that time. The period for which this damage is calculated spans from the date on which the violation occurred to the date of trial.

Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to address all or any harm initiated as a result of the ADA violation. In addition to physical pain, damages also include those for emotional pain, suffering, mental injury and any such difficulties that were directly consequential. Federal law prescribes caps or restrictions on the total damages that can be awarded as compensatory damages.

Attorney’s fees

Litigations are an expensive affair unless the attorney in charge takes up your case on a contingency basis, or on a pro bono basis. In most cases, the attorney prefers upfront payments, over contingency payments. For this reason, the cost of going for a trial intimidates quite a few people. By allowing for the damages to include the attorney’s fees, the victim can afford to go up against the employer.

Punitive damages

What are punitive damages? Punitive damages are damages awarded as a deterrent to avoid similar actions in the future. Punitive damages are generally quite restricted under the ADA, except in cases where the ADA violation was an intentional one and not one that happened due to negligence. The amount that can be awarded as punitive damages is limited by the number of employees working in that organization.

Compensatory damages

                        Filing for punitive damages


While an injunction is not exactly a monetary damage, it is powerful legal instrument for bringing about a change to the victim’s environment.

In the case of an ADA violation, it is important that you understand what are punitive damages, compensatory damages, back pay, attorney’s fees, etc in order to file for all the warranted damages.

Case Files: Punitive Damages

What are punitive damages

Breach of trust can attract punitive damages

What are punitive damages? This is a question in most minds when it comes to dealing with case studies that involve seeking compensation from a party for causing losses. To describe such terms would be difficult for those without any experience in law. As such, we have compiled a few cases of interest, which deals with punitive damages. Some of the parties on the receiving end of punitive damages are very well known.

Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurant

In the early part of 1992, Stella Liebeck received third degree burns after having spilled a cup of coffee in a McDonald’s joint. After having undergone skin graft surgeries, the customer attempted to claim $20,000 as damages that the food chain refused to pay. After that, the customer took the restaurant to court with her attorney arguing that the coffee served at the joint was much too hot. As the case proceeded, it was discovered that the company had received similar complaints from many other customers over the years.

The court saw that the company had been negligent in addressing the issue. As a result, not only did Liebeck receive her compensatory damages (although some part of it was cut as the court noted that she was partly responsible for the accident) but also fined the restaurant nearly $2.7million in punitive damages! Although the award was later reduced, this goes on to show that punitive damages may be awarded even if not claimed by the party.

BMW Inc. vs. Gore

Case files

              Punitive action by courts

Imagine, one day, the “brand new” car you bought had been damaged before being sold to you and that the car manufacturer had tried to cover it up without mentioning it to the dealer and by extension, to you. This is what happened to Ira Gore when he bought his black BMW for nearly $41,000. He later found out that the car had been repainted. Gore argued that not telling him about the same constituted meant that the company failed to disclose the material fact and asserted that the value of such a car was 10 percent less than the same of an undamaged car (through a BMW dealer as witness). The court saw this as a clear breach of “good faith” and charged the company $4 million in punitive damages.

So, what are punitive damages other than fining a person or company big money? It is also a message from the courts to offending parties and others not to repeat the same mistake again. There have been many more noteworthy cases, which one may discover while pursuing through the case files of different courts.

How To Calculate A Settlement For Discrimination?

Discriminatory act

        Punitive damages for                                          discrimination

If you have reason to believe that you have been subjected to discrimination at your workplace or elsewhere for reasons such as race or gender, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer or the perpetuator for the damages suffered as a result of the offending action. The settlement proceeds awarded for a particular discrimination lawsuit settlement will depend upon the extent of damages suffered. The purpose of providing for the discrimination damages is to compensate the victim to for the discriminatory act which is against the spirit of freedom and constitution that democracies around the world hold sacred.

How to figure a settlement for discrimination?

Here are some tips to help you go about filing a lawsuit for obtaining settlements for discrimination-

  1. Compute the monetary damages involved. Generally settlements for discrimination include lost wages, back pay, compensation for monetary losses incurred and any potential future monetary losses as a direct result job loss or loss of promotion.
  2. Take into consideration all the emotional pain and suffering that one might have had to undergo. You may be entitled to receive emotional damages if you had suffered mental anguish and distress as a result of the discriminatory act. These damages are calculated based on the testimonials of medical professionals, victim and any witness present. The judge and the jury are the ones who determine the amount to be awarded as emotional damages.

    What are punitive damages

                          Calculating punitive damages

  3. Demand punitive damages. Your attorney will explain to you what are punitive damages and guide you with the necessary procedure. Basically, you may be entitled to argue for punitive damages if the defendant’s act was willful or particularly egregious. The main purpose of introducing the punitive damages is to make the defendant pay additional damages to the victim as a punishment for his or her wrongful behavior. The amount that is awarded as punitive damages is determined by the jury or ruling judge.
  4. Ask for attorney’s fees. In a discrimination lawsuit, the winning party may recover his attorney’s fees as part of the settlement proceeds from the opposing party. The attorney’s fees can include all costs incurred such as subpoenas, witness appearance fees and filling fees.

Follow these steps to calculate settlement against discrimination. To be able to do this, you should first know what are punitive damages. Consult an experienced attorney to guide you through the entire process.

Taxable Lawsuit Settlements Explained

Tax returns

Brief note on punitive damages

Have you received a substantial amount of money as damages in a legal settlement? Good for you, but have you thought about the taxes that you have to pay on them? Not likely, what with the elation of receiving money for your troubles at last. Legal settlements would count as a form of income, and not mentioning them in the tax returns would likely land you in trouble with the IRS. And the most irritating part about this is that you are likely to receive a notification on late tax, along with the penalties that you will have to pay after maybe eight or ten years. By then, it is likely that you have spent all your money received as tax settlements, and you will be left to pay a hefty sum as penalties. So, to avoid such difficulties, it is very important that you have an idea regarding the taxable legal settlements.

Punitive damages

What are punitive damages? They are damages that are awarded as a sort of monetary punishment to the defendants. They will be required to pay the sum as damages to the plaintiff, but these are not for covering the losses incurred by the plaintiff. The IRS’s point of view on the punitive damages is quite clear. They consider the punitive damages as extra income, which as such are taxable. These damages are not meant for covering for the losses incurred by the victim, but as extra income. This added financial gain, thus is a taxable income.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages have already been explained above, and they are considered as taxable income. But, what about damages to non-tangible assets? The non tangible assets include damages that are meant to cover for psychological trauma suffered by the plaintiff. The damages obtained for these non-tangible assets are also considered as taxable income.

Lost income

What are punitive damages

               Punitive damages explained

If the plaintiff was unable to work during his injury, then he or she is likely to lose a substantial part of income. This loss will be awarded as damages, and since it is intended as compensation for lost income, it is considered as taxable. Normal income tax rates are applicable for these damages.

Forgetting to add these damages is likely to result in you having to pay huge penalties in the future. So, it is always better to consult a tax consultant in order to verify whether the money you received as damages is taxable or not.

A Short Note On Taxable Lawsuit Settlements

What are punitive damages

                         Punitive damages explained

Most people who receive legal settlements are confused whether the monetary damages that they have received would be taxable or not. In some cases, the money received from legal settlements is considered taxable while in some other cases, it is not. Therefore, it is very important to have an idea about the taxable legal settlements in order to avoid uneasy moments with the IRS.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are monetary damages that are awarded to plaintiffs if the court of law that adjudicates the case feels that the damages that have been awarded to the plaintiff alone are not enough as punishment to the defendant. As you can see, punitive damages can be both monetary as well as time in prison and is up to the court to decide the appropriateness of the sentence. These awards are meant to deter other people from committing similar crimes.

Taxable punitive damages

Debates have been raging for a long time on the subject of making the income received from punitive damages as taxable. For most people who work in the tax department, it is still a confusing section of law. There have been several changes that have been incorporated into the tax codes over the years on clearly identifying those punitive damages that are taxable and those that are not.

The federal tax code was amended in 1989 by the Congress, with a view to make the punitive damages as taxable income in cases that did not result in any sort of physical harm to the victim. In 1996, a new change was made that seemed to clear all the confusion regarding punitive damages and taxable income. The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 made it clear that all punitive damages are to be considered as taxable income except in cases where the punitive damages was awarded after a civil trial for wrongful death.

Compensatory damages

Internal Revenue Services

                   Short note on punitive damages

Compensatory damages are different from punitive damages in the sense that these are awarded to the plaintiff, so that he or she can recover the amount they had to spend on medical costs, unearned income because of missed work, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

These are the important information that will definitely help you answer questions like, “what are punitive damages?” with absolute confidence. Knowledge on taxable legal settlements is necessary in order to avoid any trouble with the Internal Revenue Services department. Therefore, make sure to file the tax returns by providing the correct information regarding any legal settlements that you had received.

Lemon Law Of Pennsylvania

What are punitive damages

Punitive damages and Lemon Law

Lemon Laws are laws that safeguard the interests of consumers by preventing against fraudulent transactions on the part of the dealer. Lemon Laws implemented in most states, and are quite popular in the car sales area. According to the Lemon Law, a dealer or a seller should compensate or replace a defective product for the customer, if the defect occurred within a specified period of time post the sale. The norms governing this are not the same in every state. This article details the Lemon Law applicable and implemented in the state of Pennsylvania.

More in to the law

According to the Pennsylvania Lemon Law, it is the responsibility of the dealer to rectify or fix the defect or impairment found in a new product, if said defect occurred within a specified amount of time following the sale.  The defect can be connected with the performance of the product, or a security related issue. This concept can be best understood by taking a brand new car as an example. The dealers are supposed to fix any issue that may affect the performance or security of the car, if this issue is reported at the right time – within a time span of 1 year or before the completion of 12000 miles. The dealer is supposed to replace the vehicle, if the impairment is not fixable after 3 attempts. The dealer should also take into consideration the number of days for which the car was under repair. He can only do the repair work for a maximum of 30 days before having to replace the vehicle. Instead of the replacement scheme, the dealer can also opt to refund the buyer’s money.

What are punitive damages and how do they relate to Lemon Law?

Pennsylvania Lemon Law

More on punitive damage concepts

Many are not even aware of the concept of punitive damages. What are punitive damages in the first place? Punitive damages are the additional compensation amounts charged from a defendant, for an intentional act that causes distress or financial loss to the victim.  Punitive damages can be charged in the case of auto sales, if the impairment to the vehicle was already known to the dealer. In order to charge the dealer on these same grounds, the plaintiff should prove that fraudulent transaction was quite intentionally carried through by the dealer. Motorcycles and off-road vehicles, however, cannot be availed damages for in this manner.

This is some information on the lemon law in some states, such as Pennsylvania. Further information on the topic can be availed from other legal resource websites.

Punitive Damages And Personal Injury Scenarios

What are punitive damages

                 More on punitive damages scenarios

What are punitive damages? Punitive damages are nothing but the compensation amount demanded of a person whose wrongdoing may have caused physical or monetary damages to another individual. The monetary compensations will help the plaintiff recover from the damages, and can serve as a punishment to the defendant. People often find it difficult to understand what are punitive damages and when it is charged. The awarding of punitive damages has got many dimensions to it, and it cannot be restricted only to personal injury cases. This article will let you know more about the different aspects of punitive damages, and their application in personal injury scenarios.

When is a punitive damage charged?

On most occasions personal injury charges are awarded to the defendant, when his behaviour cannot be justified by any means. The punitive damages come into effect when there is no or very little “scope for forgiveness.” The plaintiff can also demand punitive damages if the act was intentional. The court can order punitive damages to be paid, if it finds a clear motive behind the damage caused by the defendant. However, if the defendant’s lawyer is able to prove that the particular act was not based on malicious intent, then the defendant cannot be charged punitive damages.

Punitive damages and personal injury

Punitive damage cannot always be linked with a personal injury. The concept can be clearly understood with the help of the following example. A “vehicle accident”, involving a car, might occur due to the negligence of the driver. This does not mean that he/she had the clear intention to endanger the life of other people. In this case the driver can be charged for the act of negligent

Monetary compensations

               Different aspects of punitive damages

driving, but the punitive damages cannot be availed for the same. The whole scenario changes, though, if the driver who was responsible for the accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Every individual is required to be aware of the rule that they cannot drink and drive. According to the POV of the law, the individual has ignored this rule and committed the offence. This may invite charges of punitive damages, if the act led to the personal injury of another individual.

This is some information on when and in which cases punitive damages can be availed in a court of law. Further information on this topic can be availed from legal resources.