Earlier this month in Ohio, a woman recovered over $1.3 million for the injuries she sustained in an accident that occurred at a local supermarket. According to an industry news source reporting on the case, the woman was injured when another customer accidentally struck her with a motorized grocery cart. The plaintiff claimed that the supermarket chain was negligent for failing to provide adequate instructions for the customers who used the motorized carts.
During the discovery process of the woman’s lawsuit, it was uncovered that there were 119 other accidents in the same grocery store chain involving electric shopping carts. The woman used this fact to argue that the store’s management knew that there was a danger in providing the carts to customers, but it failed to do anything to remedy the situation. After hearing all the evidence, the jury returned the $1.3 million verdict, which included $125,000 in compensatory damages and another $1.2 million in punitive damages. If not for the evidence of the previous accidents showing the defendant company’s knowledge of the dangers associated with the carts, it is not likely that the woman would have recovered any punitive damages.
The Availability of Punitive Damages in Florida
Unlike compensatory damages, which are designed to make the plaintiff whole again, punitive damages are designed to deter the reckless conduct of the defendant that gave rise to the lawsuit. As a result, punitive damages in Florida can be significantly higher than compensatory damages in some cases.
Punitive damages, however, can be difficult to obtain due to the high burden of proof placed on parties seeking them. In Florida, punitive damages are only permitted in cases in which there is intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Gross negligence is defined under Florida law as conduct that is so “reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference” to the safety of others. Thus, in the case discussed above, punitive damages may also have been appropriate if the case had been brought in Florida, since there was evidence that the company knew of the dangers associated with the electric carts but failed to take any further precautions. This could show a “conscious disregard” for a known risk.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. In many cases, the at-fault party or their insurance company will contact accident victims hoping to obtain a quick – and cheap – resolution to the case. However, many of these cases are worth considerably more than a low-ball offer. If you have been involved in an accident, contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Cecere Santana. With decades of experience bringing thousands of successful cases, we have the experience necessary to competently and aggressively represent you. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Adopts Continuing Course of Treatment Doctrine in Medical Malpractice Case, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 27, 2016.
Determining Which Statute of Limitations Applies in Personal Injury Cases, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 16, 2016.