What Are Punitive Damages in Minnesota Injury Lawsuits?
Under Minnesota law, injury victims can seek punitive damages through a personal injury lawsuit. But what are punitive damages? Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a type of financial penalty levied against a defendant in a personal injury claim. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to “punish” the defendant – rather than simply reimburse the victim for financial loss.
Under Minnesota law, courts can award punitive damages in cases where the defendant shows a "deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.” This action includes instances of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
The Process of Awarding Punitive Damages in Minnesota
In Minnesota, the process for awarding punitive damages is rigorous. The plaintiff must typically prove, through “clear and convincing evidence,” that the defendant acted with deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others. This standard is significantly higher than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard required for compensatory damages.
Because of this, punitive damages are not especially common in Minnesota injury settlements. However, in cases of clear wrongdoing, they can be a powerful deterrent. Minnesota has no cap on punitive damages, meaning a court can award as much as it deems fit based on the misconduct committed.
Cases That May Result in Punitive Damages
Technically, any personal injury case involving gross negligence or misconduct can lead to punitive damages. However, some injury cases are more likely to include punitive measures than others. These include:
- Product liability cases: If a company knowingly sells a dangerous or defective product.
- Medical malpractice: In instances where a healthcare professional's conduct is grossly negligent or harmful – such as performing surgery while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Workplace injuries: If an employer willfully ignores safety regulations, leading to a severe injury.
- Drunk driving crashes: In car accident cases involving a drunk driver.
- Intentional torts: Injuries caused by deliberate violence, such as assault and battery.
Punitive damages are necessary for punishing and discouraging reckless or harmful behavior. Punitive damages also give injury victims a greater sense of justice for their loss and pain. Punitive damages can’t change what happened, but they can offer comfort in the healing process.
Still Have Questions? We Have Answers!
Punitive damages are a vital part of the Minnesota legal system and are designed to protect people from those who knowingly endanger others. We hope this guide has helped you understand punitive damages. If you still have questions, we’d be happy to answer them.
And if you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, we can help you get the compensation you need.
SiebenCarey is the ONLY Minnesota law firm with a 70-year history of fighting for the rights of injury victims. Choosing us for legal representation ensures you benefit from the following:
- 70 years of experience in the legal field
- A strong record of successful cases
- Established expertise in negotiating settlements and conducting trials
- Extensive legal resources
- An entire team of seasoned attorneys, legal assistants, and investigators
- Our “Know Your Rights” guarantee of personal attention and unwavering support
Best of all, we operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you only pay our fees when you win your case.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys are standing by to answer your questions and explain your rights. Let’s talk!