Punitive damages, sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, are a form of monetary compensation awarded as punishment to deter others from malicious, evil, or fraudulent behavior. In order for punitive damages to be awarded, it must be proven that the defendant’s conduct was malicious or in total disregard of another person's rights.
In Massachusetts, if a party’s negligence or conduct results in death, punitive damages may be awarded.
In order to better understand punitive damages, you must understand the concept of gross negligence. According to some Massachusetts courts, “Gross negligence is substantially and appreciably higher in magnitude than ordinary negligence.” This means that the negligence must be far more blatant and severe.
Typically, a jury decides the amount of punitive damages to be awarded to the injured party.
If the jury does award punitive damages in a case, the defendant can ask the court to review the amount of punitive damages awarded and make sure it is within the constitutional requirements by the U.S. Supreme Court and by the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court.
If you feel you may be eligible for punitive damages or if you would to learn more about a specific state's regulations surrounding punitive damages, please fill out the form on this website for a free case evaluation by an attorney.