Punitive damages are money the court awards to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for especially egregious behavior. While economic and non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for both calculable and subjective forms of harm, the jury is entitled to award additional compensation to punish the wrongdoer when their conduct shows a reckless disregard for human life. The purpose of punitive damages is to send a message to the defendant and the community that the behavior will not be tolerated and should never happen again.
Pursuing punitive damages in Wesley Chapel nursing home abuse cases is not easy. Thus, if you believe that a long-term care facility’s conduct was so outrageous that it should be punished beyond just compensating you for your economic and non-economic damages, contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney at Distasio Law Firm for the required legal assistance.
How to Bring Punitive Damages
There are strict standards on how to bring a punitive damages case. In addition to showing that staff members were reckless in their care, you also have to show that management ratified or condoned the conduct or that the administration itself was reckless. If you can do this, then you have the right to ask for punitive damages.
In a Wesley Chapel nursing home case, punitive damages are generally allowed when an expert witness says the care the facility provided is so below the standard of care of what a normal healthcare provider would do that it is considered a reckless disregard for the patient’s life. Next, you must show that the management was implicit in this behavior. A diligent attorney like Scott Distasio could help to prove this element by showing that the facility was understaffed and that the administration knew it was understaffed. This demonstrates the management ratified and condoned the reckless conduct because they chose to understaff the facility instead of providing quality care.
How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?
There is no specific formula to calculate punitive damages. Instead, punitive damages are calculated by the creativity of the lawyer representing a Wesley Chapel nursing home abuse victim. The way that a good attorney presents a punitive damage case is to demonstrate how egregious the conduct was and why it needs to be punished. A skilled legal professional could speak to the jury in a way that convinces them that the number needs to be large enough to prevent that defendant and any other defendant or nursing home from engaging in that conduct again.
However, the request cannot bankrupt the company. Thus, the plaintiff’s lawyer is entitled to request the facility’s financial information. Generally, a good attorney will ask for a large enough number that is close to bankrupting the facility, but that would not actually do it. The entities responsible for paying punitive damages would be the nursing home and any other corporate entity associated with the facility that was involved in that wrongful conduct.
Factors that Might Influence the Court’s Decision
In order to bring a claim of punitive damages in a Wesley Chapel nursing home abuse case, you must get permission from the judge. There are certain protections that the law allows to the wrongdoer before you can bring the claim. You or your legal counsel must gather the evidence of the wrongful conduct and prepare a motion to the court. During the motion, your lawyer must explain to the judge why the evidence is so strong that a jury should be allowed to decide whether or not to award punitive damages. Your evidence must be sufficient that a reasonable jury might conclude that the caregivers were engaged in reckless conduct and that management ratified and condoned that conduct.
Then, once the nursing home abuse case goes to trial, your diligent Wesley Chapel attorney will need to retain an expert witness who is willing to conclude that that conduct was so below the standard of care that it is outrageous and can testify that the facility did not have enough staff to meet the needs of the residents. This is generally enough evidence for a judge to conclude that management ratified and condoned the reckless conduct.
Pursue Punitive Damages With the Help of a Wesley Chapel Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Punitive damages in Wesley Chapel nursing home abuse cases are rare, but may be awarded if the circumstances warrant them. Discuss your situation with a knowledgeable legal professional at Distasio Law Firm today.