Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney
Schedule A Consultation Today! Phone Logo Icon 863-619-5291
Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Car Accident / Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Florida Car Accident Cases

Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Florida Car Accident Cases


It can be overwhelming to suffer injuries in a car accident. Fortunately, people who suffer car accident injuries because of the negligence of other parties may be entitled to compensation for numerous damages. Often, car accident victims in Florida are entitled to compensatory damages. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. This article discusses compensatory and punitive damages in Florida car accident cases.

What Are Damages in a Car Accident Case?

In a car accident case, damages are the losses or harm suffered by the victim due to the accident. Damages are awarded in the form of financial compensation to the claimant. Usually, the court imposes damages if it finds that the defendant breached their duty of care. There are two main types of damages in Florida car accident cases: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory Damages in Florida Car Accident Cases

The most commonly awarded damages in Florida car accident cases are compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are also known as actual damages. The Legal Information Institute (LII) defines compensatory damages as damages equivalent to a party’s losses. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a car accident victim for the harm or losses suffered due to the accident.

Compensatory damages are linked to the victim’s economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses, also called special damages, are quantifiable or tangible losses resulting from the accident. They include the following;

  • Medical expenses, both current and future
  • Lost wages, both current and future
  • Property damage
  • Transportation expenses

Non-economic damages, also called general damages, are intangible losses. These losses are subjective and more challenging to quantify. The following are some examples of non-economic damages;

  • Emotional distress
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In a wrongful death case, surviving loved ones may be entitled to other types of compensatory damages, including compensation to cover funeral costs, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship.

Punitive Damages in a Florida Car Accident Case

Punitive damages are less common than compensatory damages in Florida car accident cases. According to Florida Statute 768.72, punitive damages can only be awarded in a case where it has been shown that the defendant is guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. Intentional misconduct means that the defendant knew of the wrongfulness of their behavior and that their behavior could cause harm, but despite knowing that, they proceeded to pursue the course of action resulting in harm. On the other hand, gross negligence means the defendant acted in a manner that shows a reckless disregard for the well-being or safety of others.

Caps on Damages in Florida

Damage caps limit how much compensation a claimant can recover in a personal injury lawsuit. In Florida car accident cases, there are no caps on compensatory damages. However, Florida law puts a cap on punitive damage awards. According to Florida law, in most cases, an award for punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages.

Legal Help Is Available

The skilled and dedicated Lakeland car accident attorneys at Darla K. Snead, P.L., can help you understand your legal rights. We can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn