Punitive Damages in Wisconsin Personal Injury Cases
Can you collect punitive damages in your Wisconsin personal injury case?
If you are injured in Wisconsin, you can sue the person who causes your injuries for money damages. This includes compensatory damages: medical bills, lost wages, lost property value, and other economic losses. In some cases, though, you may also seek punitive damages in your Wisconsin personal injury case. These come on top of replacing your losses and can form a critical part of your award at trial.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the person at fault for your injuries. In addition, they serve as a warning to others that particularly dangerous conduct will be punished.
Because these damages are considered outside of your losses, courts award them in limited and infrequent cases. Punitive damages are available only when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious. While what happened to the injured party is important, these damages focus on the person or people who inflicted the injuries.
Standard for Awarding Punitive Damages
Courts will consider many factors to determine both whether to award punitive damages and how much to award. These include the following:
- how much economic damage you suffer
- how much more damage could have resulted
- whether the conduct was particularly malicious or reckless
- whether the defendant can afford the damages
- punitive damage awards in similar cases
Limits in Wisconsin
At one time, punitive damages had no limits. Tort reform movements have limited punitive damages in different ways, focused on either the proportion of punitive to compensatory damages or the total amount. In Wisconsin, both of these apply; punitive damages are capped at the greater of twice the compensatory damages or $200,000. The only exception is punitive damages for drunk driving, for which there is no cap.
If you are injured in Madison, Wisconsin, you need experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you achieve the maximum damages available. Eisenberg Law Offices can give you the representation you need.