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Punitive damage awards meant to halt bad behavior

Punitive damages are monetary awards that extend beyond compensation for an individual’s economic and non-economic damages. A wrongful act performed with a sincere intention to deal fairly with others is an inadequate basis for such an award. Punitive damages awards are used as a tool of the legal system to thwart outrageous or egregious conduct; the evidence must demonstrate that the offender’s behavior was intentionally willful, wanton or reckless using the following guidelines:

  • Willfulness implies intent to commit a wrongdoing which causes harm to another. For example, if a manufacturer knows that their goods could cause injury but chooses not to modify their product because of the cost, then that person or entity’s conduct can be deemed “willful”;
  • Wanton conduct is acting with a reckless indifference to the consequences and the disregard to another’s well-being; and
  • An act of recklessness is performed with a complete disregard of a predictable injurious outcome.

Caps on punitive damage awards in Indiana

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In Indiana, the legislature has limited the maximum amount allowable in cases of punitive damage awards. Indiana Code 34-51-3-4 §4 states:

A punitive damage award may not be more than the greater of:

  1. Three (3) times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the action; or
  2. Fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

            As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.47.

Distribution of Punitive Damage Award

In IC 34-51-3-6, the person to whom the punitive damages were awarded will receive 25% of the award and the remaining 75% will be deposited by the Indiana State Treasurer into the violent crimes victim’s compensation fund with an option for the State Attorney General to negotiate and compromise the State of Indiana’s 75% portion of the punitive damage award.

Experienced Personal Injury and Product Liability Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis, IN. Ward & Ward Law Firm has over 85 years of combined experience in personal injury law including car, motorcycle, trucking accidents and wrongful death claims. Our firm receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225


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