PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN MISSOURI
Punitive damages are intended to punish and deter similar conduct in the future of the party that has been determined responsible for the injuries to another party. Not every case can consider punitive damages and judges make the determination as to whether or not a jury is permitted to consider punitive damages as part of their decision. When a judge feels that sufficient evidence has been shown that the injuries of the plaintiff were caused by the defendant’s negligence and ALSO that the defendant showed an “evil motive or reckless indifference, or in some cases when the defendant’s conduct showed complete indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others” a claim for punitive damages can be brought. If the judge decides to allow the jury to consider punitive damages, the jury can determine the amount of punitive damages.Missouri law permits a jury to consider the defendant’s net worth in deciding how many dollars of punitive damages they will award the injured party.
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In other to determine the amount of punitive damages to award, Missouri permits the jury to consider what the defendant’s net worth is. This is important because a punitive award of $1,000 may not be considered to be very much punishment to a person with a net worth of a ten million dollars.
Missouri statute also allows for the punitive damage part of the trial to be tried separately from the rest of the case.
Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff.
Defendants that try to hide behind bankruptcy to avoid large Punitive damages awards will find that punitive damage awards are not dischargeable in bankruptcy provided the relevant cause of action was based upon willful and malicious actions. 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).
Contact RS Law to discuss punitive damages and how this may affect your case today. Personal injury lawsuits are a way to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions that caused you harm.