The Link Between Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages in a personal injury case are fairly uncommon since they are generally awarded in trials involving egregious or reprehensible behavior. In fact, such damages are awarded solely for the purpose of punishing the defendant responsible for the accident and to deter other persons from performing similar acts. Under the realm of punitive damages, you may come across the term gross negligence, which is an element to proving punitive damages.

Continue reading to learn more about gross negligence and punitive damages in a personal injury case, including how to get more information regarding your eligibility for pursuing legal action against an outrageously negligent person who caused you or your loved one harm in an accident.

Negligence Lawyers Indianapolis IN 317-881-2700
Negligence Lawyers Indianapolis IN 317-881-2700

General Damages in a Personal Injury Case

A wrongfully injured victim can recover qualifying general damages, also called compensatory damages, in a personal injury case. Such damages include calculable expenses such as hospital bills, medical expenses, lost wages for missing work, and even the cost of fuel driving to and from doctors’ appointments or treatments. They may also recover non-economic damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and similar non-expenditure consequences of being wrongfully injured in an accident.

Punitive Damages

When a defendant in a personal injury case has done something particularly egregious, the victim of the accident may be awarded punitive damages. Although the injured victim benefits from the compensation, punitive damages are awarded for the purpose of punishing the defendant for their inexcusable or reprehensible behavior that caused the accident and to deter other persons from performing similar acts .

Gross Negligence

In most states, in order to be awarded punitive damages, the defendant must have behaved maliciously, deceitfully, intentionally, or with extreme recklessness, disregard, or indifference. This type of behavior is generally referred to as gross negligence in personal injury cases. To be awarded punitive damages, an injured victim’s personal injury lawyer would have to prove gross negligence. Gross negligent behavior can be an act, or even a failure to act.

Example of Gross Negligence

To better understand gross negligence cases, here is an example of a potential accident that would call for punitive damages:

A building inspector identifies a railing hazard on the 3rd floor apartment balcony and gives the landlord a report that suggests repairing it immediately. Knowing that the balcony railing is loose and requires replacement, the landlord rents the apartment to a family without making the repair. As a result, the 3 year old child falls off the balcony and dies. The landlord could be said to have acted with extreme negligence and disregard to their tenant’s safety. The bereaved could file suit against the landlord seeking general damages and punitive damages in a wrongful death case.

Are you looking for skilled personal injury law firm to represent you in your gross negligence case in Indiana? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys in Indianapolis, Indiana. We represent injured victims and loved ones of persons who have dies as a result of the negligence of another person or corporation throughout the state of Indiana.

Related Posts:

Legal Facts About Pain and Suffering Damages in Indiana
What are Future Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Top 3 Things You Can Do to Maximize Your Accident Settlement

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An Overview of Indiana Negligence Laws

As a personal injury victim who has a claim, you shouldn’t have to decipher through complex legalese just to be sure your rights are being protected. Although the best course of action is to consult with an attorney who specializes in accident and personal injury law in order to fully understand your claim, it also helps to review some important principles of negligence law yourself.

Continue reading for a basic overview of Indiana’s negligence laws.

Indiana Negligence Lawyers 317-881-2700
Indiana Negligence Lawyers 317-881-2700

Negligence Law in Indiana

“Legal negligence” occurs when a person or corporation owes a duty of care to another person, and fails to uphold that duty, therefore becoming responsible for any subsequent injuries, damages, or losses. For instance, a drunk driver who fails to stop at a red light will be held liable under negligence law for the injured victim’s damages and losses. See Indiana Code Title 34, Section 51-2-5, et seq. for details regarding state negligence ordinances.  The insurance company for the drunk driver would pay for any damages assessed against the drunk driver.

Proving Negligence

Here in Indiana, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit (the victim), holds the burden of proving negligence. There are some central elements to a negligence case, and a personal injury victim must be able to prove that these elements exist:

✦ The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.

✦ The defendant breached their duty of care.

✦ If it weren’t for the defendant’s breach, the plaintiff would not have suffered harm.

✦ The defendant’s breached duty of care was a responsible cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

✦ Any reasonable person would have been able to foresee the accident could have occurred.

✦ As a result of the incident, the plaintiff suffered damages and losses.

Personal Injury Damages

Damages and losses include both economic and non-economic damages. Losses that can be defined by an actual dollar amount and redeemed through financial compensation are considered economic damages, such as hospital, medical expenses, lost wages, and anything else that was a direct financial loss to the victim or their family. Non-economic damages are awarded for emotional or mental losses and tribulations, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, permanent disabilities and more.

Contributory Negligence

For cases in which a plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries, Indiana uses the contributory negligence legal principle. Contributory negligence, also known as “comparative fault”, is the legal concept that refers to the situation in which an injured person is a contributing factor to their injuries. This is common in motor vehicle accidents and slip and fall accidents. In contrast, comparative negligence divides the amount of fault among each person involved in an accident. This concept is used in a situation where multiple parties were negligent.

Statutes of Limitations

Here in Indiana, the law gives personal injury claimants 2 years from the date of the incident to make a claim against the at-fault party in most situations. See our blog, “Is it Too Late For Me to Make a Personal Injury Claim?” to learn more about our state’s statute of limitations.  Applicable time limits are substantially less, depending upon who the at-fault party is, so it is very important to call an injury attorney as soon as you have been able to obtain your initial treatment for your injuries.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys Who Will Fight For Your Rights

Call Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney who can determine the best strategies for your case. Not only does our law firm offer free consultations, we never collect lawyer fees unless we prevail for you! Call 317-881-2700 to get started on your financial recovery, today.  We represent injured persons throughout Indiana.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700
Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

The Fundamentals of a Negligence Lawsuit

Indianapolis Accident Lawyers 317-881-2700

Indianapolis Accident Lawyers 317-881-2700

When a victim sues an at-fault person in civil court for personal injuries that resulted from an accident caused by the defendant, it is considered a negligence lawsuit. In criminal court, there are wrongdoers, whereas, in civil court, there are negligent or at-fault parties. In a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff (victim or family of victim) carries the burden of proving their case. In order to do so, they must provide evidence to prove the 4 main elements of every negligence lawsuit.

The 4 Main Elements of a Negligence Lawsuit:

The Plaintiff must prove…

Ⅰ. The defendant had a legal duty of care.

An example of having a duty of care would be a school. Teachers and administrators have a duty of care to ensure children are looked after and kept safe from danger.

Ⅱ. The defendant breached that duty of care.

Continuing the example above, if the teacher takes their class to the park, and a child falls into a pond, she is guilty of negligent supervision.

Ⅲ. The breach of care directly caused the accident, which caused the Plaintiff injuries.

Since the child would likely have not fallen into the pond if they were being properly supervised, the teacher could be held liable for any injuries or wrongful death that resulted from the child falling into the pond while under her supervision.

Ⅳ. The Plaintiff’s injuries caused damages and losses.

The final element of every negligence case has to do with damages and losses. Victims can recover various types of damages depending on the details and circumstances of their case.

Types of damages include:

Compensatory – Compensates for actual costs incurred as a result of the accident/injuries, such as lost wages, hospital bills, and medical expenses. Compensatory damages can include both general and special damages.

General – Monetary compensation for injuries.

Nominal – Awarded when negligence is proven, but losses have not yet occurred.

Special – Compensates for material possessions lost or damaged in the accident.

Punitive – Awarded to victim for the purpose of punishing the defendant for their negligence.

Indianapolis Accident Attorneys 317-881-2700

Indianapolis Accident Attorneys 317-881-2700

It is the judge in the end who decides what duty of care the defendant had with the plaintiff. It is the personal injury attorneys who fight on behalf of injured victims to ensure they receive the full and fair amount of compensation for their damages and losses. Choose an experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyer if you or someone you love was recently injured as a result of another person or company’s negligence. They have the knowledge and resources to prove your case and win the settlement you deserve.

Call Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free consultation with a licensed Indianapolis personal injury attorney who can determine the best strategies for your case. Not only does our law firm offer free consultations, we never collect lawyer fees unless we prevail for you! Call 317-881-2700 to get started on your financial recovery, today.