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Punitive DamageLAWYER in Houston
If you have been injured in an auto accident or have lost a family member in a wrongful death incident, you may be wondering whether punitive damages may apply to your case. Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages and are controlled mainly by statute within the state of Texas and case law. This type of claim stems from bad conduct, such as a drunk driver or a company that intentionally ignores safety rules causing an accident or fatality.
We have vast experience getting punitive damages after a serious injury or fatal accident.
If you have questions – talk with a preeminent rated punitive damage lawyer for answers- (281) 587-1111 or fill out a case consultation request!
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How We Can Help with Your Punitive Damage Case
The punitive damages attorneys at the Baumgartner Law Firm have been helping families maximize damages for over three decades in punitive damage cases. The list of multimillion dollar cases we have handled is exhaustive. Or success is based upon or experience and the commitment to justice for our clients.
We have helped families that have lost a loved one in trucking accidents where we discovered drivers driving over the allowed hours. We have helped victims when trucking companies broke the safety rules. We have helped burn victims after severe burns from landlord negligence. We have helped victims of drunk drivers sue bars and clubs that over served a drunk driver. We have helped families who have lost a father and husband in construction accidents.
We take a very aggressive approach to helping you win cases involving gross negligence and punitive damages.
Why Hire Us for Your Punitive Damage Case?
- Because we limit the number of cases that we accept, we can dedicate to your punitive damage claim the time and resources necessary to maximize your damages. We are extremely simple selective in the cases that we agreed to pursue to provide maximum personal service to you and your family.
- Our track record of excellence extends over 35 years. we routinely receive referrals from defense attorneys that we have worked against over the years when their friends or family members or severely injured or killed.
- Our firm has been recognized for excellence numerous times over the years including:
Av Preeminent Rating
Client Review Awards
Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers and many others.
- We are committed to doing whatever it takes to get justice for you. Our experience, personal service and exceptional results can’t be beat.
What You Can Expect If We Accept Your Case
We are very selective in the cases that we agreed to handle. And by being selective in accepting cases we will dedicate the firm to your winning your case. Our first steps after being hired includes:
We will thoroughly investigate the accident in which you were injured or lost a family member to be in the best position to hold the wrongdoer accountable and obtained justice for your family. Frequently, we will engage licensed investigators and consult expert witnesses to best serve justice for you and your family.
we will often conduct significant research regarding the defendants, prior claims, driving records, safer alternative designs, and other factors helpful to win in your case.
Retain needed Experts
If necessary, we will retain expert witnesses who are able to explain the defendant’s actions and the accident and damages to your jury. These witnesses can include:
- Medical Doctors
- Accident Reenactment
- Safety and Regulations
- Biomechanics and many others
We will frequently work with treating physicians and others to develop evidence necessary to maximize your recovery in a lawsuit. Because we have been helping families who have lost a loved one for over three decades and handled thousands of severe personal injury cases, we are uniquely positioned to help you.
Types of Cases We Have Handled for Punitive Damages
- Drunk Driving Accidents
- Over Serving by Bars
- 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
- Defective Products
- Burn Injuries
- Daycare Negligence
- Car Wrecks
- Construction Accidents
For over three decades we have been Houston’s go to punitive damage law firm. With the goal of maximizing your compensation and holding wrongdoers accountable, call to see if we can help you! Call (281) 587-1111!
What are punitive damages?
Punitive or exemplary damages are damages that are in addition to and different from “actual damages”. Actual damages in a personal injury lawsuit would be things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, and disfigurement. In a wrongful death lawsuit, actual damages would include loss of consortium, financial losses, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, and loss of inheritance.
Punitive damages are actually punishment damages and are not measured by the actual damages sustained by the victim. Punitive damages are meant to deter conduct in the future that society believes is reprehensible. In other words, punitive damages are such that they are intended to punish the behavior of a defendant to prevent unconscionable conduct from occurring again!
Under Texas law, punitive damages are referred to as exemplary damages. They are given in personal injury cases where victim proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions amounted to gross negligence, malice, or fraud.
What is gross negligence?
Gross negligence is often pled in personal injury cases in the state of Texas. Gross negligence is defined as an act or omission, which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the defendant at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others;
And of which the defendant has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others. In short, punitive damages are foe when the defendant knew his conduct was wrong and dangerous but proceeded anyway!
Gross negligence is not saying that the defendant actually intended to hurt anyone only that they knew that their contract was such that it involved dangerous behavior. A good example would be a person who went to happy hour at the local watering hole and consumed a fair amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. When they started out on their trip home, they did not intend to have an accident or to hurt anyone, yet knew they were intoxicated and shouldn’t be driving.
In this example, a drunk driving accident lawyer may sue for gross negligence if they feel they can prove the case by clear and convincing evidence. While they did not intend to hurt anyone, they did consciously get behind the wheel, knowing that it was dangerous to do so.
What is malice?
Malice refers to a specific intent by the defendant to cause substantial injury.
Punitive damages law in Texas
The law of punitive damages in Texas is found in Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. The law allows the recovery of exemplary or punitive damages only if the victim can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the harm was caused by fraud, malice, or gross negligence. The jury must be unanimous in their verdict.
In determining the number for exemplary damages, the jury shall consider evidence, if any relating to:
- The nature of the wrong;
- The character of the conduct involved;
- The degree of culpability of the wrongdoer;
- The situation and sensibilities of the parties concerned;
- The extent to which conduct offends a public sense of justice and propriety; and
- The net worth of the defendant.
Net worth is the total assets of a person minus the total liabilities of the person on the date determined appropriate by the trial court. Accordingly, a defendant’s net worth is relevant and subject to discovery in a lawsuit where the plaintiff seeks to recover exemplary damages. However, Section 41.0115 allows a defendant to file a motion to limit discovery of net worth and tell a claimant has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the claim for exemplary damages.
Thus, an accident victim must first file a motion to obtain net worth discovery and show the trial court that there is a substantial likelihood of success to get such discovery. Our punitive damages lawyers have been hugely successful in many Texas cases.
Damage caps in Texas for punitive damages
Texas law limits or caps the amounts punitive damages in section 41.008 Texas Civil Practice and Remedy Code.
In Texas, punitive damages are limited to the greater of:
1. A) Two times the amount of economic damages; b) An amount equal to any noneconomic damages found by the jury not to exceed $750,000 or 2. $200,000.
Economic damages are direct economic losses. This would be items like lost wages, medical expenses, and the like. Conversely, noneconomic damages would be items like pain-and-suffering, mental anguish, emotional pain, loss of consortium, disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of companionship and society, loss of enjoyment of life.
Situations where the damage caps do not apply in Texas
There are certain areas where the punitive damage caps provided in Texas law are not limited in amount. Lawmakers in Texas have specified 17 separate Penal Code sections that will overcome the damage limits on exemplary claims.
The most commonly used exceptions for personal injury attorneys include Penal Code section 49.07 intoxication assault, Penal Code section 49.08 intoxication manslaughter, and section 22.04 injury to the child or elderly person.
To take advantage of the exceptions to the punitive damage caps, the plaintiff must obtain a specific jury finding that the defendant violated one of the criminal code sections. Additionally, the violation must have been committed knowingly and intentionally.
Corporate responsibility and punitive damages in Texas
To hold a corporation accountable for exemplary or punitive damages based upon the actions of its employee, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The principal authorizes the doing and the manner of the act;
- The agent was unfit, and the principal was reckless in employing him:
- The agent was employed in a managerial capacity and was acting in the scope of employment; or
- The employer or manager of the employer ratified or prove the act.
The actions of a vice principal are deemed to be the actions of a corporation for purposes of exemplary damages. This is because a vice-principal represents the corporation in its corporate capacity. This means that the actions of specific individuals will be deemed to be the actions of the corporation. Vice principals can include corporate officers, those with authority to employ direct and discharge employees, those engaged in the performance of nondelegable duties, and those delegated the management of all or part of the business.
An example where punitive damages might be sought by a truck accident lawyer includes where the trucking company knew the vehicle was out of service but required the 18-wheeler to be used instead of doing the required repairs first.