Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits (Part 3)

According to Illinois laws, punitive damages can only be awarded if compensatory damages have been awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
According to Illinois laws,
punitive damages can only be
awarded if compensatory
damages have been awarded
in a personal injury lawsuit.

Concluding the three-part blog Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits¸ here, we will discuss the specific legal limitations associated with punitive damages in the state of Illinois.

Illinois Laws Regarding Punitive Damages

According to Illinois statutes (ILCS 5/2-115.05), punitive damages can be awarded in personal injury cases when the defendant has been found to have exhibited “willful and wanton conduct” and when this conduct has directly caused injury or damage to the plaintiff. Some of the specific rules regarding punitive damages in Illinois include that:

  • A judge or jury may only award punitive damages (also referred to as exemplary damages) if compensatory damages will be or have been awarded to the plaintiff.
  • The amount of punitive damages awarded in a case cannot exceed three times (3x) the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the same case.
  • In order for plaintiffs to be able to recover punitive damages from a defendant, they first have to prove that:
    • The defendant had an “evil motive” or a “reckless and outrageous indifference” that put others at risk of significant harm.
    • The plaintiff must provide “clear and convincing evidence” that establishes the defendant’s negligence or recklessness, and this evidence must be more persuasive than what “is necessary to meet the preponderance of evidence standard.”
  • The defendant has the right to request that the portion of the civil case related to the punitive damages be tried separate from the rest of the case. When such a request is made, the compensatory damages-related portion of the case will be tried first, and the punitive damages portion of the case will be tried subsequently.

St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have sustained any type of personal injury and believe that another person’s or party’s negligence may have caused the injury, contact the St. Louis personal injury lawyers at Brown & Brown Attorneys at Law. We have a long-standing commitment to serving our clients, and we are experienced at aggressively defending our clients’ rights in any legal setting. Our goal is to preserve and promote the rights and welfare of individuals and families who have suffered injuries and losses and/or who need help navigating the complexities of the court system.

Since 1993, our lawyers have been successfully representing our clients in various areas of personal injury litigation, including motor vehicle accident lawsuits, insurance bad faith cases, dangerous drug lawsuits and catastrophic injury cases. Our unwavering dedication to the pursuit of justice in every case we handle means that we will work relentlessly to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes to their cases. One of our primary goals is to help accident victims secure the maximum possible compensation for their injuries and losses so they can focus on their recovery and moving on with their lives.

For a free initial consult, email us using the form at the right-hand side of the screen and/or to call us at 573-333-3333 for our Missouri office or at 618-888-8888 for our Illinois office.

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