Punitive Damages: When Are They Awarded in Personal Injury Cases


If you sustained an injury because of the actions of another party, you may be able to seek different types of compensation for your losses. Aside from compensatory damages, you may also recover punitive damages. Generally, these damages are reserved for cases when the defendant was grossly negligent or caused you harm on purpose.  Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment to the defendant for their wrongful actions. An award for these damages is mainly focused on deterrence in regard to the future conduct of the defendant and others. A personal injury attorney in Rockford can help accident victims determine if punitive damages can be awarded to their case.

Laws that Cover Punitive Damages in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, civil court jury instructions permit punitive damages in certain situations. The jury may award them if they think they are required for justice and the public’s interest. Also, punitive damages can be awarded when the jury believes they will discourage the negligent party and others from showing the same conduct in the future. Punitive damages are not permitted for medical and legal malpractice cases that lead to the plaintiff’s injury.

When Punitive Damages are Awarded

Punitive damages are awarded based on the intentional or malicious conduct of the defendant. Also, they are awarded based on the outrageous disregard for other people’s rights or safety. Defendants who caused a car accident because they drove their car while intoxicated can be held liable for punitive damages.

Moreover, punitive damages can also be awarded after a vehicle crash that resulted from a defective or faulty car component like an electrical failure or airbag issue that the manufacturing company was aware of or should have known could cause harm.

Illinois courts may also award punitive damages in cases involving insurance companies acting in bad faith as they try to resolve valid claims an insured individual has presented. Every insurance provider has a duty to act in good faith, which means it has to give consideration to the interest of its policyholders. Denying coverage or not settling a claim, and failing to balance interests equally, can offer grounds to recover punitive damages based on bad faith.

Aside from the conduct of the defendant, some factors must be also be considered when awarding punitive damages. For instance, punitive damages can only be awarded when accompanied by an award for compensatory damages. Second, 

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