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Exemplary damages are also called punitive damages.  They are awarded to punish a party for a bad act.  Exemplary damages generally arise in claims for damages where a party has caused damage to another through:

  • Fraud;
  • Malice; or
  • Gross negligence.

You must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you suffered harm as a result of their action.  Additionally, you must prove fraud, malice or gross negligence.  It is not enough to establish ordinary negligence.  Your personal injury attorney will explain the burden and how you can prove it.

The jury awarding the damages must all be in agreement to award the exemplary damages.  Not only must the jury agree to award the punitive damages, they must all be in agreement to the amount.  This must be specified in the jury charge.

You receive pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on general damages.  Since exemplary damages are a penalty for a bad act, they do not accrue interest.

If there are multiple defendants in a claim for damages, you generally find them jointly and severely liable.  However, in a claim for exemplary damages, you must prove the claim against each defendant that you are claiming should be punished.

Limitation for Exemplary Damages

Exemplary damages are limited to two times the amount of economic damages, plus an amount equal to non-economic damages (limited to $750,000), or $200,000.  However, for certain acts, there is no limit.  They include:

  • Murder;
  • Aggravated Kidnapping;
  • Aggravated Assault;
  • Sexual Assault;
  • Injury to a child, elderly, or disabled while providing healthcare;
  • Forgery;
  • Commercial Bribery;
  • Misapplication of fiduciary property;
  • Theft of at least Third Degree Felony; and
  • Intoxication Assault;

There are more exemptions not on this list.  Please go over them with your attorney in preparing your claim.

Conclusion

If you have been harmed by the act of a third party, get a lawyer on your side.  There may be multiple causes of action to recover your damages.