Tragedy struck in North Miami Beach late last month, as a fiery crash claimed the lives of several residents, including a 6-year old girl. According to a CBS Local report, three family members (including the girl and her father) were riding southbound on Okeechobee Road when another vehicle came toward them in the opposite direction. Local authorities report that the vehicle going north was speeding, and the driver eventually lost control. The car careered across the median and hit the family’s vehicle head on. All four people involved in the accident were killed. Our Miami car accident attorneys are prepared to assist the loved ones of anyone that may find themselves in a similar situation.
Damages in Florida Lawsuits: Compensatory or Exemplary
Following tragic Miami car accidents like this one, it is common for civil lawsuits to be filed. These suits seek to hold wrongdoers accountable for the consequences of their actions. In most cases, insurance companies are involved. Miami car accident attorneys often work on behalf of those hurt in their negotiations with those insurance companies, potentially taking the case all the way to a trial if necessary.
Both in negotiations and at trial, a crucial issue is the determination of a reasonable amount of compensation. In fact, in many cases the only issue of dispute is the amount of damages. That is because liability is sometimes obvious, as in cases where one vehicle clearly causes an accident involving others.
Florida laws regarding damages are quite complex, and it is always important to receive tailored advice from an attorney about your case. However, as a general matter, there are two basic types of damages to understand: compensatory damages and punitive (exemplary) damages.
Compensatory damages are those most familiar to Florida residents. As the name implies, the purpose of this award is to “compensate” the injured party for the losses suffered by the negligence. Therefore, when calculating the total award quantity, advocates will tally up many costs, including medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. In addition, even losses that do not necessarily have a clear quantifiable figure attached to them are considered compensatory damages. This even includes intangibles like “pain and suffering.”
Make no mistake: calculating the appropriate level of compensatory damages in any given case is often an art, requiring the aid of an experience lawyer to advocate for your rights. Insurance companies are in the business of paying out as little an award for these damages as possible, and you should never believe that these companies or their representatives are pursuing your best interests.
The other major type of damages are not intended to compensate the victim, but instead to punish the wrongdoer. Appropriate only in very specific cases, punitive damages are generally given in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious.
Punitive damage are the exception rather than the rule in civil lawsuits. In fact, Florida law is very clear in delineating the situations where these damages can be awarded and limiting how much can be ordered. Specifically, the law allows punitive damages only in cases of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
The Miami car accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. have years of experience working with local residents hurt in any manner of motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in automobile accident, contact the Miami motor vehicle accident lawyers of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A today.