Are Punitive Damages Available For Injury Claims in Texas?

June 23, 2022 | Personal Injury

There are various types of compensation that may be available through a personal injury claim in Texas. The first of these is compensatory damages, which revolve around medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. The second type of damages is called exemplary damages, often referred to as punitive damages. These damages are available in Texas, but there are caveats to when they can be awarded and how much a person can receive.

What are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are not awarded in every injury case that goes through the Texas court system. In reality, exemplary damages are not awarded very often at all. These types of damages are specifically designed to be awarded only when the conduct of the defendant is deemed to be particularly egregious or intentional. These damages are meant to be a punishment and to act as a deterrent to those who may conduct themselves in the same way in the future.

When are Punitive Damages Awarded in Texas?

As we mentioned above, punitive damages are certainly not awarded in every single injury case. When we examine Section 41.003 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, we can see that exemplary damages will only be approved if there is clear and convincing evidence that the injury was caused by fraud, malice, or gross negligence of the defendant. Additionally, exemplary damages will only be awarded if a jury comes to a unanimous decision about whether they should be awarded and how much compensation should be awarded. Typically, this makes it very difficult for individuals to recover exemplary damages.

To outline how and when these damages would be awarded, let us examine driver negligence. For example, in a vehicle accident case where a driver fails to use a turn signal, punitive damages are almost never going to be awarded. However, if a driver intentionally operates their vehicle at 120 mph while racing down the highway and causes a car accident, punitive damages are much more likely to be awarded, as stated from our Austin lawyer that focuses on car accidents

Are There Monetary Caps on Punitive Damages in Texas?

In Texas, there are no limitations put in place on compensatory damages such as medical bills and pain and suffering damages. Juries are allowed to abort however much compensation they want to an injury victim when it comes to economic and non-economic losses.

However, there are limitations on how much compensation can be awarded for punitive or exemplary damages in personal injury cases. Exemplary damages are not allowed to exceed an amount greater than the following:

  • Two times the economic damages PLUS an amount equal to the non-economic damages awarded by the jury, but cannot exceed $750,000, OR
  • $200,000 in total

When working to calculate how much punitive damages to award, the jury will consider various factors, including:

  • The nature of the negligent or intentional behavior
  • The character of the conduct involved
  • How much culpability the negligent party carries
  • Disabilities and a situation of all parties concerned
  • The extent to which the conduct involved offended the public sense of justice
  • The net worth of the defendant

We strongly encourage any person injured as a result of the negligent actions of another individual or entity to work with a skilled Cedar Park personal injury lawyer who can handle every aspect of the claim on their behalf. In addition, if you have also been injured in a bicycle accident, we encourage you to get in touch with our Cedar Park bicycle accident attorney