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Understanding Punitive Damages in an Illinois Personal Injury Case

Posted on in Personal Injury Lawsuits

IL injury lawyerPersonal injury law deals with injuries and property damage caused by negligent or unlawful actions. An individual may bring a personal injury claim after being hurt in a car crash, work accident, slip and fall, dog attack, or other injury-causing event. Wrongful death claims are usually brought by a close family member of someone killed in an accident caused by negligence or wrongdoing.

Money cannot make up for a serious injury or death. However, monetary damages may help cover the cost of medical treatment, vehicle repair or replacement, funeral and burial services, and other financial losses. Most of the time, damages are intended to compensate the victim or victim’s family for expenses. However, punitive damages are a separate category of damages that are awarded over and above compensatory damages.

The Purpose of Punitive Damages

Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for expenses like hospital bills or lost wages. Instead, punitive damages function as a financial penalty for wrongdoing and a deterrent for similar behavior in the future. Illinois law states that a court may award punitive damages if a defendant acted with “evil motive” or “reckless and outrageous indifference” to risk of harm with willful indifference to the safety of others.

In the famous “hot coffee lawsuit” involving the McDonald’s restaurant chain, the court awarded punitive damages due to the restaurant’s “willful, wanton, and reckless” actions. The court found that McDonald’s was aware that their coffee was hot enough to cause severe burns and had received multiple reports of serious burn injuries from other patrons but did not lower the coffee’s temperature.

Are Punitive Damages Available in My Case?

If you or a loved one were harmed by another party’s reckless or intentionally harmful behavior, you may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of damages. Punitive damages are awarded much less frequently than compensatory damages. However, it may be possible to receive punitive damages if you or a loved one were harmed by actions that were especially egregious. Illinois law prohibits punitive damages in medical malpractice and legal malpractice cases.

Contact a Lake County Personal Injury Attorney

When a party’s negligent or illegal actions cause someone else to be injured or killed, that party should be held accountable. To learn more about seeking compensation through a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim, contact the experienced Waukegan personal injury lawyers at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C.. Call us at 847-662-3303 today for a free, confidential case assessment.





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