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Punitive Damages

The purpose of punitive damages is to punish extreme and egregious conduct that was done with reckless disregard to another person’s rights. Pennsylvania courts have historically awarded punitive damages, but have done so only if an actor’s conduct was:

  • Malicious;
  • Willful;
  • Wanton;
  • Oppressive; or
  • Done in reckless indifference.

Punitive damages are typically awarded in intentional tort or strict liability cases. Unless, an individual's negligent conduct is seen as gross or extreme, a court is unlikely to award punitive damages for negligence.

Personal Injury Lawyer in West Chester, PA Discusses Punitive Damages

If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed due to another party's negligence in southeastern Pennsylvania, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Ciccarelli Law Offices represents people injured in all kinds of accidents and have office locations in Philadelphia, Plymouth Square, Radnor, Springfield, Kennett Square, King of Prussia, Lancaster, and Malvern.

Our personal injury attorneys in West Chester will work tirelessly to hold negligent parties accountable and seek all of the compensation that you are entitled to. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (610) 719-3190 to receive a free, no obligation consultation.


Chester County Punitive Damages Information Center


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Types of Cases Involving Punitive Damages in Pennsylvania

Punitive damages are only awarded in cases in which defendants have engaged in particularly abhorrent conduct. A victim is usually entitled to punitive damages when he or she can prove that the defendant intentionally sought to inflict harm.

Punitive damages may be awarded when an offender is convicted of an intentional tort such as:

  • Assault;
  • Harassment;
  • Kidnapping;
  • False Imprisonment;
  • Fraud; or
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

Punitive damages can also be awarded in other types of cases, such as products liability cases or claims stemming from automobile accidents caused by motorists convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or a controlled substance.


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Punitive Damages in West Chester Medical Malpractice Cases

Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 1303.505(a), punitive damages can be awarded for conduct that is the result of the health care provider's willful or wanton conduct or reckless indifference to the rights of others.

The character of the health care provider's act, the nature and extent of the harm to the patient that the health care provider caused or intended to cause, and the wealth of the health care provider will be considered by the trier of fact in assessing punitive damages.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 1303.505(c) establishes that punitive damages cannot be awarded against a health care provider who is only vicariously liable for the actions of its agent that caused the injury, unless it can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the party knew of and allowed the conduct by its agent that resulted in the award of punitive damages.

Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 1303.505(d), punitive damages against an individual physician cannot exceed 200 percent of the compensatory damages awarded, except in cases alleging intentional misconduct. Such punitive damages also cannot be less than $100,000 unless a lower verdict amount is returned by the trier of fact.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 1303.505(e) states that upon the entry of a verdict including an award of punitive damages, the punitive damages portion of the award shall be allocated as follows:

  • 75 percent paid to the prevailing party; and
  • 25 percent paid to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare).

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Pennsylvania Punitive Damages Resources

David G. Owen, A Punitive Damages Overview: Functions, Problems and Reform, 39 Vill. L. Rev. 363 (1994) — View the full text of this of this publication discussing punitive damages. Learn more about the nature and sources of punitive damages, functions, of punitive damages, and the criticisms critiqued. You can also find information about constitutional, legislative, and judicial reform.


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Ciccarelli Law Offices | West Chester Personal Injury Attorney

Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed because of another party's negligence in southeastern Pennsylvania? Make sure that you contact Ciccarelli Law Offices before making any statement to or signing any paperwork for an insurance company or other agent.

Our West Chester personal injury lawyers represent individuals in communities throughout Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, and the greater Philadelphia area.

You can have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (610) 719-3190 or fill out an online contact form to set up a free initial consultation.



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