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Punitive Damages in Texas

When you file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, you may be eligible for economic damages (e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc.) or non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship and consortium, etc.). But in some cases, however, the law allows injured parties (plaintiff) to also seek “punitive damages” against the at-fault party (defendant). 

Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are awarded based on the following two reasons: 

  • Punish the defendant for their behavior – If the at-fault party behaved in a malicious and/or grossly negligent manner with a complete lack of concern for the plaintiff’s wellbeing, then the injured party can sue for punitive damages. 

  • Deter similar behavior from happening in the future – The punitive damages are worth an extremely high-dollar amount to prevent that type of behavior from happening again by anyone or any entity. 

Yet, Texas has two caps on punitive damages: $200,000 (if the jury does not award any economic damages) or two times the amount of economic damages and an equal amount of noneconomic damages of up to $750,000. For instance, if the jury awards you $100,000 in economic damages and $150,000 in noneconomic damages, then your punitive damages will be capped at $350,000. 

In addition, the standard of proof is different for punitive damages. While personal injury cases are based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable for the accident, gross negligence for punitive damages are proven by providing “clear and convincing evidence.” For a jury to award punitive damages, the verdict must be unanimous, rather than a majority. 

If you were injured in Dallas because of another person’s grossly negligent behavior, contact MR Civil Justice at (214) 307-8387 today for a free initial consultation. 

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