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Do the Texas courts award punitive damages to plaintiffs?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Personal Injury

Some people file lawsuits on their own behalf because a business or individual has caused them serious injury. A person hurt in a drunk driving crash could sue the impaired motorist if their total expenses exceed what insurance can cover. Other times, people may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after the tragic loss of a family member.

Such lawsuits generally require that plaintiffs request a specific amount of compensation from the defendants they blame for their losses. Economic losses are likely to be the main contributing factor to the overall value of a lawsuit. Plaintiffs can request compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and property damage losses. Lawsuits can also lead to the recovery of certain non-economic losses in some cases.

The goal of such lawsuits is usually the appropriate compensation of those negatively affected by someone else’s behavior. However, sometimes people file lawsuits in part because they want justice for the harm they experienced. Simply receiving compensation isn’t enough. They hope to punish the other party. Are punitive damages an option for those filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits in Texas?

Each personal injury case is unique

The law in Texas does potentially allow plaintiffs to request punitive damages. The law in Texas refers to such damages as exemplary damages rather than punitive damages. The point of exemplary damages is the punishment of the defendant in a personal injury case.

The law in Texas imposes a relatively high standard for exemplary damages. Specifically, plaintiffs typically need proof that the situation was more severe than the average personal injury scenario. Typically, plaintiffs need to prove that negligence or misconduct caused their losses.

In cases where plaintiffs request exemplary damages, the standard is higher. They generally need to prove that gross negligence occurred if the claim relates to negligent behavior. If misconduct is the reason for the lawsuit, then the plaintiff must establish that the incident involved either fraud or malice.

It can be difficult for those already struggling with the harm caused by someone else’s misconduct to objectively review their situation. Determining whether exemplary damages are an option can be an important step for those developing a personal injury lawsuit. A thorough review of the situation with the guidance of a skilled legal team can help people better determine what damages they can seek through litigation.