Legal Guide

Does Indianapolis Have A Cap In Punitive Damages?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s much more to it. The personal injury law in Indianapolis seeks to redress all the financial and the non-economic damages incurred by the plaintiff at the time of an accident. Caps are awards for the damages paid to the victim or the plaintiff, with certain restrictions. The State of Indiana indeed has a cap on the amount of punitive damage you, as a plaintiff, can pursue. 

According to Section 34-51-3-4 of the Indiana Code of Laws, the amount of the Punitive damages awarded cannot be higher than three times the compensatory damages awarded for the injuries faced by the plaintiff. Although, no matter how assured you might be of your rights, you would find it difficult to reclaim the expenses of damage without the help of an experienced attorney at law.   

What To Do Before You File A Claim For Punitive Damages

Before you get involved in the extensive procedure of claiming punitive damages, it is always best to consult your lawyer over some essential questions, such as:

  • What Are Punitive Damages?

Before filing a claim for punitive damages, your lawyer will inform you precisely about what punitive damages are. Punitive damages are a legal recompense which the defendant is bound to pay the plaintiff after they’ve paid out the compensatory damages. However, punitive damages are awarded by a court of law only under extreme circumstances when the compensatory damages do not deem to be sufficient. There are plenty of law firms that represent victims in cases revolving around a personal injury claim, so make sure you hire an experienced practitioner of law dealing in such matters.

  • Is It Essential To File Claims For Punitive Damages?

People often wonder if it is essential to file a claim for punitive damages, as court proceedings can prove intimidating for both the defendant and the plaintiff. Upon being asked this question, your lawyer may inform you that while the chances of being awarded the punitive damages may or may not be high, it is necessary for many reasons. The reason a court awards punitive damages is not only to compensate the victim of their injuries but can also act as extra punishment for the intentional and/or irresponsible harm caused.

  • How Would I Benefit From Filing A Claim For Punitive Damages?

Suppose you are involved in an accident that causes you to lose your employment due to injuries and you incur medical expenses following the incident. The loss in a personal injury case is unforeseeable and can be detrimental in securing your financial viability henceforth. Therefore, asking questions like these to your lawyer only makes sense. The advantage of filing this claim through any law firm is to ensure that you are adequately compensated for your injuries, and the defendant is punished in accordance with their negligent and/or intentional behavior. 

  • How Much Can I Claim In A Punitive Damage Award?

As mentioned above, in Indiana, the amount of punitive damages you may be entitled to is limited under Section 34-51-3-4 of the Indiana Code. Your lawyer may remind you of this by presenting you with suitable clauses; however, such restrictions don’t mean you shouldn’t pursue them in cases where they are relevant. In an appropriate case, you can procure up to 3 times the amount you received as compensatory damages. For instance, if a plaintiff obtains $20,000 in compensatory damages and is entitled to receive punitive damages by the court, they may be entitled to up to $60,000 in punitive damages.

Questions You Should Be Asking Your Hired Personal Injury Lawyer

An unfortunate circumstance like an accident can be daunting enough for most people. The mental instability and other related consequences that can come alongside physical pain can unsettle even the toughest of individuals. Thus, hiring a quality, experienced, and reputable lawyer from any of the various Indianapolis law firms will prove to be advantageous for you as you enter and navigate through the legal process. But, before you do that, make sure you know everything there is to know about your lawyer and his or her services. 

  • How Experienced Are You In Handling Cases Like Mine?

A huge determining factor that can help you win a settlement claim in a personal injury case is the amount of practical experience the lawyer you hired has in dealing with cases like your own. Failing to ask questions about the experience and credibility of your selected lawyer can lead to negative results, so it’s best to do your due diligence up front, rather than cleaning up issues after the fact.

  • What Fees Do You Charge? 

As a client, being aware of the fees your lawyer will charge you for representing you in your case is essential when choosing who is right for you. Some personal injury lawyers will take anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the punitive damages awarded as a contingency fee. While that may sound like money out of your pocket, it also means that you only have to pay them after you’ve successfully received your monetary damages. 

  • Do I Have To Pay You If I Lose The Case?

This is one of, if not the most fundamental question to ask any personal injury lawyer. Many lawyers charge an advance fee for their operating costs in addition to the contingency fee. Make sure to ask your lawyer about the responsibility of bearing the case-related costs if you lose.

Damage And Control?

The provision of punitive damages in the Indiana Code is a strategy that sells. What it states is that punitive damages are legal recompenses assessed by the court, leading to i) Outrageous punishment of the defendant for their egregious and intentional misconduct, and; ii) high compensation for damages caused to the plaintiff.  The sole purpose of this penalty is to ensure that the defendant does not dare to repeat their mistakes. 

In summary, dealing with issues in the legal field are often stressful and intimidating, as most people are not accustomed to appearing in court.  All cases carry their own stressors; however, with personal injury cases, you often have much more at stake than your personal stress level.  When it comes to fighting to obtain compensation you’re entitled to, make sure you put in the work up-front so that you begin your legal battle with experienced, quality representation on your side.  

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