We Can Help You Recover
The Compensation You Need &
The Peace of Mind You Deserve.

Can I Sue for Punitive Damages in A Personal Injury Case in Arizona?

Latest News

What Does the Law Say About Punitive Damages in Arizona?

When victims of personal injury file a lawsuit, they aim to seek compensation to help them return to their previous positions. The court awards them compensatory damages to cover the losses associated with the injuries arising from the accident. In rare cases, the court can grant punitive damages to penalize the defendant for their gross behavior.

Not every personal injury claim qualifies for punitive damages because the law makes it difficult to sue for them. Restrictive state court rulings have allowed for the damages only under specific circumstances. Whether you can receive the damages depends on many factors, and a skilled lawyer from a law firm in Arizona can evaluate and advise you accordingly.

What is the Standard for Punitive Damages?

Unfortunately, Arizona has no specific law that says when it’s appropriate to award punitive damages. The relevant rules are often laid out in injury case law or handed down by courts throughout history. Currently, the standard that courts use to determine whether to award punitive damages is evaluating whether the defendant acted with evil intentions.

Juries try to determine if the at-fault party knew they were causing harm to the victim by their actions and still carried out the action. Courts have narrowed down circumstances that constitute evil intentions into two categories:

  • When someone has ill will and intentionally harms the victim
  • When someone knows what they are doing is unsafe and is highly likely to hurt someone, they still do it with high disregard for the substantial risk.

These evil intentions can be complex to prove when pursuing punitive damages, but working with an experienced Scottsdale personal injury attorney can enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.

When Are Punitive Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases in Arizona?

You can only be eligible to be awarded punitive damages in Arizona if you can prove the defendant acted with an “evil hand and mind.” A personal injury attorney in Scottsdale explains that the damages are unavailable when a defendant is only negligent or careless.

Some examples of circumstances under which punitive damages might be availed in a personal injury lawsuit are:

  • A defendant causes an accident due to intoxicated driving
  • A defendant drag races on a busy road, injuring a pedestrian
  • Someone carelessly lets off fireworks in the direction of a crowd, injuring a bystander

Your Scottsdale personal injury lawyer can help you collect clear and convincing evidence that is substantially more likely to be true than not when pursuing punitive damages. Given the complexity of proving an evil mind and intentions, don’t go to court alone when demanding punitive damages in a personal injury case.

In What Type of Lawsuits Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded?

If you can show that the at-fault party acted in an evil mind, you can collect punitive damages in the following types of personal injury lawsuits:

  • Car accidents: If a driver intentionally rammed into you or did something significantly reckless, knowing they would cause you harm, the court can award you punitive damages.
  • Medical malpractice: Medical practitioners sometimes intentionally harm patients. For example, a nurse can give an uncooperative patient a sedative to quieten them despite it not being prescribed, leading to an adverse reaction that harms the patient.
  • Wrongful death: If you lose a loved one because of the evil mind of another person, you could pursue punitive damages. An example is when an employer knowingly allows an employee to work with defective equipment, knowing it could injure or kill them, and it eventually does.
  • Insurance bad faith: Such a claim happens when an insurer intentionally refuses to compensate the insured for expenses the policy is supposed to cover. If the company does this deliberately and hurts the insured, it may be forced to pay punitive damages, given the facts and circumstances presented in a lawsuit.

Does Arizona Place a Cap on Punitive Damage Awards?

Some states cap the punitive damages a victim can recover, but Arizona has no such cap. However, according to the United States Supreme Court, the punitive and compensatory damages ratio should not exceed 9:1.

For example, if you get $10,000 in compensatory damages and $900,000 in punitive damages, the amount would be unconstitutional and should be reviewed downward to something more appropriate. An aggressive personal injury attorney in Scottsdale can fight to enhance the chances of receiving the amount your case deserves.

Four main considerations courts make when determining the appropriateness of punitive damages award are:

  • The severity of the defendant’s behavior
  • The duration of the conduct
  • The degree to which the offender was aware of the action and tried to conceal
  • The net worth of the defendant

Exceptions to cases where the court can award punitive damages are those involving public entities and employees. The law stipulates that if these parties acted within the scope of their duties when an accident happened, they can’t be liable for punitive damages.

A Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Fighting for Punitive Damages in Your Injury Case

Punitive damages can be granted in a personal injury case, but only if you can prove that the accused acted with an evil mind and an intention to cause harm. The damages can also be awarded if a defendant knowingly did something they knew was unsafe and would likely hurt someone but did it anyway.

These damages are not always awarded, and pursuing them would require the skill of a passionate Scottsdale personal injury attorney.

Wilson Ortiz Law Firm has a dedicated attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve to enjoy the peace of mind you deserve. Call us at 623-294-1442 to schedule a FREE consultation.

Related Articles