Skip to main content
wisconsin personal injury lawyer

Punitive Damages In Wisconsin PI Cases | Eisenberg Law

Recovering Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Personal injury cases in Wisconsin can yield many different types of damages that are awarded to victims. Most people are familiar with compensatory damages which are awarded to cover pain and suffering, medical costs, legal fees, lost wages, and damaged or destroyed property. Less familiar to many people is the fact that victims can also recover punitive damages.

Punitive awards are not available in every case; they are usually only available in extreme circumstances.

Punitive Damages: Punishment and Deterrence

Most of the damages awarded in personal injury cases are intended to reimburse or pay back the victim for what he or she lost due to the actions of the other party. That’s why damages are awarded based on things that have been lost like wages and property or even the ability to work, as well as expenses incurred like medical bills.

Punitive damages are different. These damages are designed to punish the defendant for actions that are well outside the realm of acceptable behavior. Not only is the defendant punished, these damages are also used as a deterrent to prevent others from acting similarly.

In Wisconsin, punitive awards are capped at $200,000 or two times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Plaintiffs carry a high burden of proof when trying to win punitive compensation and they are only available in situations where the defendant intentionally disregarded the rights of the victim or acted in a malicious, willful, and wanton manner.

Is It Worth It?

Due to the cap and the high burden of proof required, it is rare for victims to pursue punitive compensation in Wisconsin. Even when victims do recover punitive awards, there is a risk that it can be lost on appeal or tied up in legal wranglings for years. Collection is difficult too. Insurance companies rarely cover punitive awards, which means the defendant has to pay for the damages personally…something that may never happen.

This doesn’t mean that it is never worthwhile to seek punitive awards. Perhaps the most important role these damages play is to set an example and a strong message that such behavior is unacceptable in the State of Wisconsin.

If you have been involved in a personal injury situation and wonder if a punitive award is possible in your case, contact Eisenberg Law Offices at 608-256-8356 or to schedule a free and confidential consultation.