Punitive Damages in a Nevada Personal Injury Case

Personal Injury Attorneys » Personal Injury Claims » Punitive Damages in a Nevada Personal Injury Case

When people think of damages in an injury case, they usually consider economic damages like medical bills and lost wages. But in some cases, a defendant may be ordered to pay additional amounts if their conduct was especially harmful.

These additional amounts are known as punitive damages. Personal injury victims have the right to recover for all types of damage caused by another’s negligence, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Our personal injury attorneys explain what you need to know about punitive damages in your Nevada injury case.


    What Are Punitive Damages?


    Punitive damages are a type of compensation available when you’re hurt because of a personal injury. Punitive damages in Las Vegas injury cases compensate the victim above and beyond compulsory damages. These damages address a person’s willful negligence. Some examples include:

    • Drunk driving – A person chooses to drink alcohol and then drive.
    • Medical malpractice – A doctor knowingly makes an error, so the patient has to return for treatment.
    • Product liability – A company wants to save money, so they cut corners, knowing the product could harm consumers.

    What’s the purpose of punitive damages?

    Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant when they’re guilty of appalling conduct for the mental anguish they cause to another person. They’re intended to punish the defendant’s bad behavior. In addition to punishment, they also serve as a warning to other people and corporations who are considering acting in ways likely to hurt others.

    A civil case can’t result in a verdict that sentences someone to jail. Incarceration is only possible in criminal cases. However, Nevada lawmakers want to ensure defendants receive a harsh penalty when they unnecessarily hurt others. To allow these severe penalties, Nevada lawmakers passed laws allowing punitive damages to compensate the plaintiff when serious civil wrongs are committed.

    How are punitive damages different than other types of damages?

    Punitive damages aren’t based on your actual losses. That makes them unlike other types of damages in injury cases. Economic damages like medical bills and lost wages are a simple mathematical calculation based on your actual losses. Non-economic damages are based on the severity of your injuries. They’re meant to compensate you for the loss of regular use of your body and the pain and suffering that goes along with it.

    Unlike economic damages and non-economic damages, punitive damages aren’t meant to compensate you for anything. Instead, they’re intended to send a message to the other party. They’re not based on your injuries. Instead, they focus on the other party’s actions and how they cause physical and emotional pain.

    How do I qualify for punitive damages?

    The first step to getting punitive damages is winning the case. When you win the case, the jury can decide if the circumstances warrant you to receive additional compensation for damages. You qualify if the defendant acts with any of the following:

    • Oppression – Actions that create unfair hardship for victims or take advantage of an unfair financial difference
    • Fraud – Hiding the truth or trying to deceive victims
    • Malice – Intentionally hurting someone or recklessly disregarding the safety of others

    The evidence that qualifies for punitive damages must be clear and convincing. If you are eligible for additional damages, the jury can decide whether to award you or not. They don’t have to grant them, even if you qualify for them. It’s up to the jury to decide what’s fair for the circumstance.

    Are there limitations on punitive damages?

    Nevada Law limits the award to three times the amount of compensatory damages if compensatory damages are $100,000 or more. In cases where compensatory damages are less than $100,000, the jury can award up to $300,000 in punitive damages.

    These limits don’t apply in the following cases:

    • Defective products
    • An insurer who refuses to pay in bad faith
    • Defamation
    • Exposure to hazardous materials

    Who decides if I get punitive damages?

    The jury decides if you get punitive damages. If either party disagrees with the decision, they can appeal it. The reviewing court won’t override the jury’s decision as long as sufficient grounds exist to justify it.

    How does the jury decide if I get punitive damages?

    Once the jury determines punitive damages are appropriate, there’s a separate proceeding to determine how much to order. Since punitive damages are meant to be painful, the defendant’s financial resources are one factor that gets taken into consideration.

    The defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages is essential in determining the award amount. The jury decides the amount of the punitive damages award within the limitations of Nevada law.

    Punitive Damages Example


    Smith Food and Drug Centers Inc. v. Bellegarde

    One Nevada case that discusses punitive damages is the Supreme Court case of Smith Food and Drug Centers Inc. v. Bellegarde. In this case, store employees detained an individual they suspected of shoplifting. They ultimately pepper spray the individual and hold them in handcuffs. The victim brings a lawsuit against the store for the employees’ actions.

    The jury awarded $65,000 in punitive damages to the victim. They said the store hadn’t trained the store manager to handle suspected shoplifters. They said that the store should have had written procedures for how employees should handle shoplifters. The store allowed managers to deal with suspected shoplifters as they saw fit. The jury found that the lack of policies and oversight justified punitive damages.

    How can an attorney help?

    An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine if your case may qualify for punitive damages if you’re injured. If you are eligible, they can help you develop a plan to build a strong case showing how the defendant acted with bad intentions.

    Proving your case requires careful documentation of the facts and circumstances. An attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to receive justice in the Nevada courts. Contact our expert team today for a consultation about your case.

    Legal Disclaimer

    This webpage is not intended to be an advertisement or solicitation. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Material contained in our website is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice or solicitation of legal services.

    Transmission of information from this site is not intended to create, and its receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between Adam S. Kutner and the user of this site. In the event that any information on this web site does not conform fully with regulations in any jurisdiction, this law firm will not accept representation based on that information.

    Adam S. Kutner

    With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.

    Call (702) 382-0000 for a Free Consultation

    Adam Kutner is a Top 100 Trial Lawyer with Experience and Expertise that Will Benefit You

    Call us today at (702) 382-0000 anytime to schedule a free consultation. We will work to get you the maximum settlement as quickly as possible.

    Adam Kutner Reviews & Testimonials

    I needed an attorney because I couldn’t deal with the accident on my own, so I needed someone else’s opinion about my accident.

    Well I heard about Adam Kutner through an associate of mine and I chose to seek him because I heard of him before also, so I thought he would be the best option for me.

    I was very happy with my settlement and it came quicker than I thought, in just a couple months I received a check in the mail.

    When I recommend Adam Kutner I would tell them that the settlement comes very quickly, and he is very helpful with transportation and whatever else you may need.”

    – Deborah Banks. 5/5 Stars

    Real Client Testimonial: Deborah Banks

    View Details


      Home Visits Are Available

      Call Now for Details