If you are filing a Wisconsin wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one, you may have been told to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages refer to a monetary amount that is awarded solely for the purpose of punishing the defendant for the actions that caused the death and deterring him and others from similar behavior in the future. Unlike compensatory damages—those damages that cover medical bills, burial costs, economic losses, and pain and suffering—punitive damages are not meant as reimbursement.
Punitive damages are not awarded in every Wisconsin wrongful death case. In Wisconsin, punitive damages are only awarded if the plaintiff and his attorney can prove that the defendant acted with the intent to cause injury to the victim, or that the defendant knew that injury was a likely result of his or her actions. For example, it is well known that driving drunk greatly increases the risk of a fatal accident. A driver who chooses to get behind the wheel while intoxicated is knowingly putting the lives of others at risk.
In Wisconsin punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of compensatory damages or $200,000, whichever is greater.
Factors that can influence the amount of a Wisconsin punitive damage award include:
- How reprehensible the wrongdoing was. For example, a driver with a history of drunken driving offenses might be expected to pay more punitive damages than a distracted driver.
- The amounts of punitive damages awarded in similar cases.
- The amount of economic damages.
To learn more about the damages available to families of Wisconsin wrongful death victims, contact the Milwaukee wrongful death lawyers at Hupy & Abraham at 800-800-5678. We will be able to give you information specific to your case. The initial consultation is always free.