Punitive damages are something everyone has heard of, but few understand. They are not meant to compensate you, that is what your economic and noneconomic damages, referred to collectively as compensatory damages, are for. Punitive damages are also referred to as exemplary damages. They are awarded in addition to your losses as a punishment and deterrent to the wrongdoer and others who might be tempted to behave in a similar fashion.

Punitive damages are rarely available. They are not granted for simple negligence. The defendant’s behavior has to be worse than that. In Florida you must prove gross negligence or intentional misconduct in order to receive punitive damages.

Gross negligence is behaving with conscious disregard for the life, safety or rights of others. Intentional misconduct means that the plaintiff knew that their conduct would probably cause injury to others, and chose to do it anyway.