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What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive Damages
In the previous articles we discussed the general and special damages implicated in a tort suit. These damages are implicated as a means of compensating the victim for the injuries sustained, Louisiana recognizes another element of damages only available in very limited circumstances…..punitive damages. Unlike the other elements of damages that are intended to compensate for the victim’s injuries, punitive damages have the sole purpose of punishment and deterrence of the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are intended to be over and above the other compensatory damages and are available only in instances of conduct deemed worth of deterrence and punishment. In other words, the emphasis is not on the victim and the injuries but on the wrongdoer and his/her wrongful conduct. Thus, punitive damages have more to do with imposing a fine or penalty for the protection of the public interest. In other words, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from following the wrongdoer’s example.

Punitive damages are rarely available as an element of damages. Indeed, the law in Louisiana is that punitive damages are not available except where specifically authorized by statute. The limited instances providing for punitive damages reveals a public policy in the State of Louisiana against punitive damages. The public policy against punitive damages notwithstanding, an example of when punitive damages would be available as an element of damages would be situations such as injuries to others resulting from driving while intoxicated and injury resulting from the reckless disregard for the public safety in the storage, handling, or transportation of hazardous or toxic substances. In this regard, the Louisiana legislature has enacted legislation specifically providing for punitive damages in these situations.

Cle’ Simon
For nearly 75 years the Simon family has carried on a family tradition of restoring lives throughout the local communities and throughout the state of Louisiana. At Simon Law Offices I have proudly embraced this tradition and strive every day to continue the legacy. Simon Law Offices, Cajun Strong and restoring lives throughout Louisiana one client at a time.

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