Punitive Damages Lawyer | Texas Case Law
To state it bluntly, not all personal injury lawyers understand how to ensure a company is properly penalized for engaging to the reprehensible contact that caused their client to suffer injuries. As a result, you, along with your family, could end up settling your injury claim for far less compensation then was legally possible.
Punitive damages are only awarded at trial. Therefore, make sure the trial lawyer you hire to litigate your claim has experience informing Texas juries on how to consider the corporate defendant's wealth during deliberation. Punitive damages are not possible in all Texas cases, but in trucking accidents, industrial injury events, and other situations of company negligence, this monetary award could be granted as a matter of law.
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What Are Punitive Damages?
Our law firm handles personal injury claims with the goal of recovering maximum compensation for our clients, which in certain circumstances includes seeking punitive damages. Under Texas law, punitive damages, codified as “exemplary damages” is an amount the negligent party is required to pay as punishment for their actions. Our litigation team recently represented the victim of a trucking accident collision and obtained an additional six-figure sum for the trucking company’s refusal to ensure the semi-truck was properly maintained. We often seek punitive damages in our maritime and jones act cases, along with our construction and premises liability claims.
Punitive damages are an addition to compensatory damages, clients still receive full compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, and property damage.
There is no substitute for experience. It matters. Sneed|Mitchell LLP is dedicated to providing strong advocacy to serious injury victims in Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Dallas, and across Texas. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury, you need to speak with a Punitive Damages Lawyer. We are ready to assist you, today.
When Will A Court Consider Awarding Punitive Damages?
Courts consider many types of information in a personal injury case. Several key elements decide whether or not punitive damages can be awarded. For example:
Actual damages have already been awarded
The defendant’s actions must pass the tests for gross negligence
In most cases, the defendant’s gross negligence must have directly harmed the plaintiff
The court typically also considers the harm suffered by the victim, the degree of negligent conduct, and the actual damages, as punitive damages must be proportionate.
Who Receives The Money From This Additional Award?
In Texas, the plaintiff receives all of the punitive damages award as payment for the reckless, grossly negligent, or outrageous conduct the defendant engaged in. Punitive damages are legal recompense and is provided by a jury when compensatory damages are viewed an insufficient to fully compensate the plaintiff for what they experienced.
What Are Some Examples of Punitive Cases?
The following are a few real-world examples of punitive damages being issued rather notable against defendants for their egregious and unsafe actions:
Jurors forced BP PLC, to provide more than $100 million in punitive damages to 10 workers injured by toxic substance released at BP's Texas City plant. The British multinational oil and gas company had a history of failing to correct safety hazards.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company was provided a $145 million punitive damages award against an automobile insurance company that failed to settle properly settle a claim in which a motorist lost their life.
In a case against R&L Carriers, the trucking company was found grossly negligent in failing to properly supervise and train the driver, resulting in a $4.1 million dollar verdict that included punitive damages.
A lawsuit against The Rippoff Report required the news entity to pay a woman $2 million dollars after a jury found that she suffered humiliations, mental anguish, embarrassment, and other damaged after the company refused to remove clearly defamatory comments about her.
If you need a Texas Punitive Damages Lawyer to analyze your legal circumstance, we're ready to hear what transpired and how your life has been physical, emotionally, and or economically impact.
How Do Attorneys Argue For This Special Award?
Plaintiffs and their attorneys must adhere to high standards in order to secure punitive damages in an injury case. Punitive damages often mean serious penalties and sizable awards.
First, “actual damages” must be apparent. Exemplary damages cannot be awarded until a set dollar amount for wages, medical bills, property damage, and/or mental anguish has already been awarded.
Second, the plaintiff must prove “aggravated conduct” on the part of the defendant. In most injury cases, that means the plaintiff must show “gross negligence” using the following tests:
The objective test--Would a reasonable person in the place of the defendant have understood that their actions involved an extreme degree of risk? How does the magnitude and probability of harm factor into this estimation?
The subjective test--Did the defendant--man, woman, or company--actually know of and understand the risk yet continue with the dangerous action?
Additionally, the burden of proof for gross negligence is higher than the typical civil claim. In almost all civil cases, the law requires a preponderance of evidence--the likelihood of a claim’s truthfulness need only be greater than 50% in order to win a case. In order to prove gross negligence, however, the plaintiff must provide clear and convincing evidence. In other words, they must prove with near certainty that the defendants actions pass the tests listed above.
Is there A Max On This Form Of Compensation?
Codified under Texas statutes as “Exemplary Damages, punitive damages are economic damages designed to punish and prevent the Defendant from engaging in acts of gross negligence or malice moving forward. Under Texas Law Section 41.008 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code, the damages are capped at $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages plus non-economic damages, up until a maximum sum of $750,000. Whichever measurement provides the most sum to the personal injury victim is the one awarded.
Important: Many of our injury cases that occur in Texas are strategically filed under Federal Law, which provides additional recovery possibilities to our clients.
Under Federal Law, which our Punitive Damages Lawyers use in all Texas trucking accident cases, punitive damage potential greatly exceeds Texas law and can total 10 times the amount of the compensation damages. Under this rubric, an injury victim that obtains $100,000 dollars in compensation damages can receive an additional award of $1,000,000 in punitive.
Economic damages are those you suffer as a direct economic loss related to the accident, and can include, medical bills, treatment costs, lost income, property damage, loss of earning capacity, vocational rehabilitation, and any additional out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic damages are the mental and emotional effects experienced as a result of the personal injury event, and include, pain and suffering, reputational damage, loss of enjoyment of activities, or disfigurement.
Is a Lawyer Needed To Obtain These Awards?
Yes. The law is complex and a claimant should not try to represent themselves pro se in court. Attorneys are trained to understand and navigate the many ins and outs of a personal injury case. Plaintiffs need an expert in order to properly calculate and legally articulate the additional damages they feel they are entitled to. Misjudging the appropriate amount can severely hinder a claim for punitive damages.
Plaintiff’s can recover punitive damages in a variety of personal injury cases, including:
Drunk driving accidents
Texting and driving accidents
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury, you could be entitled to punitive damages. Don’t risk not obtaining maximum compensation for your losses. Since opening our doors, we have proudly represented Texans in a wide range of legal issues secure punitive damage awards. And remember, consultations with our Punitive Damages are always free and confidential.
Do I Have To Be Severely Injured To Secure This Compensation?
Physical damages are not required to by awarded punitive damages. Cases of defamation, contractual breach, corporate acquisitions and mergers, and insurance claim have lead to these additional monetary awards.
However, in lawsuits pertaining personal injury events, such as 18 Wheeler accidents or industrial chemical explosion cases, certain injuries require extensive rehabilitation costs and necessitate seven and eight figure verdicts.
Common diagnosis that often lead to higher trial verdicts include:
Spinal cord injuries - The long-term costs of spinal cord injuries vary greatly from person to person. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a loss of motor function costs an average of $350,000 the first year, and approximately $40,000 the following year. Spinal cord injuries often result in life-long complication requiring treatment experts and rehabilitation.
Concussions and Brain Injuries - Treatment for moderate to severe brain injuries ranges between $85,000 to 3 million dollars due to the cognitive, functional, sensory, and behavior changes TBI victims face. With consequences that can affect all aspects of a TBI victim's life, juries are often more attune to provide punitive damages to punish a defendant's reckless behavior.
Broken Bones - Severe physical trauma often causes a person to suffer complex fractures such as spinal fractures, traverse fractures, oblique fractures, and commuted fractures. Restorative care often includes external fixation of metal pins, screws and rods. An injured person might also need multiple surgeries to restore and stabilize the bone.
Shoulder or Rotator Cuff Injuries - Rotator cuff injuries are often severe following catastrophic injury events. When the delicate joint sustains overbearing force a person can suffer not only clavicle fracture, numerus fracture, and shoulder separations, but also irreparable disfigurement, loss of mobility, and an inability to use the damaged limb.
Crush Injuries - These injuries occur when there a direct physical crushing to a body that causes compression of the legs, arms, trunk, or any additional muscle area. When this complication occurs one can experience internal bleeding, organ failure, nerve injuries, paralysis, infections, and even death.
Additional complications that have resulted in punitive damage awards have included one or multiple of the following; whiplash to the spine, amputation to digits or limbs, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), physical disfigurement, brain stem injuries, and more.
Experienced Punitive Damages Lawyer Serving Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Across Texas
The disruption, confusion, and emotional distress that arises after the aftermath of serious personal injury event can be devastating. We understand. With the assistance of an experienced Texas Trial Lawyer victims and their families can focus on healing while the attorneys fights to pursue full compensation on your behalf.
If you would like to learn more about your options for legal recourse following a catastrophic injury, Sneed|Mitchell LLP stands ready to provide the legal insights and guidance you need, step by step. Consultations with our firm are always free and without any obligation. Take the step by calling our Punitive Damage Lawyers at (866)434-0014.