When someone breaks the law or behaves in an irresponsible way, innocent people sometimes pay the price. Criminals attack and hurt innocent bystanders, and negligent or irresponsible behavior at work or while driving can have tragic consequences.
Those negatively affected by the actions of someone else can sometimes file a civil lawsuit. Missouri law allows individuals to bring claims against other people and even businesses when negligent behavior or obvious misconduct results in someone getting hurt or dying.
Personal injury and wrongful death claims in Missouri can lead to compensation for plaintiffs for the verifiable losses they have suffered, like property damage and medical expenses. State law also permits plaintiffs to request punitive damages. Unlike economic damages, punitive damages are not a reflection of direct losses someone suffers but are instead a form of punishment. There are two times that Missouri law allows plaintiffs to seek punitive damages in civil court.
When the harm was intentional
If a co-worker who was angry that you just landed a contract with a client attacked you in the parking lot and left you with serious injuries, their actions were deliberate. They intended to cause you harm with no regard to the law or the consequences you might suffer. When you have clear evidence that the other party intended to cause harm, possibly because of something they said, you can request punitive damages in a lawsuit against them.
When they acted with disregard for safety
Under Missouri state law, punitive damages are also available when the defendant acted with “deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.”
An example of this situation would involve someone driving when they know they have had too much to drink. Everyone knows that drinking and driving is dangerous and puts other people on the roads at risk. When you can show that someone knew the risks and engaged in dangerous behavior anyway, you can potentially claim punitive damages in your lawsuit against them.
Barring one of those two scenarios, punitive damages will not be an option. However, you can still seek economic damages in scenarios that do not meet the criteria for punitive damages. Learning more about Missouri personal injury laws will help you pursue the financial justice you deserve.