When people or companies act recklessly or negligently and cause serious injuries to others, the law allows victims to pursue damages against those bad actors. This is the foundation of personal injury laws. Sometimes, the wrongdoers go beyond negligent or recklessness and act with an intent to harm others or a conscious disregard for their well-being. There is a special place in the law to punish this conduct.
Nevada allows for plaintiffs in extreme situations to seek “punitive” and “exemplary” damages against the responsible parties. Punitive damages are relatively rare and are only awarded in exceptional cases since they are explicitly designed “for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant” for particularly egregious conduct.
To obtain punitive damages, the plaintiff has the burden to prove the following:
- There must be a breach of an obligation, such as a duty of care; and
- The plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence—the highest burden of proof in civil lawsuits—that “the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice, express or implied”.
Again, meeting this burden of proof to obtain punitive damages is a tall order and reserved for situations where the plaintiff can demonstrate intent to injure the plaintiff or a conscious disregard for the likely harm their actions will cause.
How Much Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover?
Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages traditionally sought in personal injury lawsuits such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Generally, a plaintiff is allowed to collect:
- Up to three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded if the amount is $100,000 or more; or
- $300,000 if the amount of compensatory damages awarded is less than $100,000.
There are certain claims where these limits are lifted, such as defective product lawsuits, toxic and hazardous waste injuries, and motor vehicle accidents where the responsible driver willfully consumed drugs or alcohol.
Call the Personal Injury Lawyers at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P.
Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. is a small, full-service law firm that has helped personal injury clients obtain millions of dollars in damages from negligent parties. Our attorneys are hard-working, intelligent advocates who will leave no stone unturned when it comes to seeking maximum compensation on our clients’ behalf. If you want an honest, no-nonsense assessment of your potential legal claims, call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule a free case consultation or contact our office through our website.