In the context of a personal injury matter, punitive damages are a monetary award representing punishment. Punitive damages punish a defendant from malicious or wanton behavior. A plaintiff must demonstrate a circumstance of aggravation or outrage in order to prevail on a punitive damage. The purpose of punitive damage is not only to punish the defendant but also to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
In order to win punitive damages, a very strict standard applies. Simple negligence will not warrant an award for punitive damages.
While very few injury cases qualify for punitive damages, each claim should be evaluated keeping this option open if applicable.