If a person is seriously injured or killed as a result of the negligence of another, the injured person or surviving loved ones can seek damages in civil court. There are two types of damages: Compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are those meant to indemnify a person for a particular loss or injury. There is no special process for obtaining these damages, as they are intended to replace what was lost. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are supposed to punish a defendant for grossly negligent acts and to deter similar behavior in the future.
Punitive damages are not available in all cases, as F.S. 768.72 points out. Requests for punitive damages have to be approved by the trial judge, and there has to be evidence of gross negligence, such that there was a lack of disregard for human life or safety, a lack of care by defendant who was consciously indifferent to it or intentional violation of the victim’s rights. Continue reading →