Can you recover punitive damages in Wisconsin?

If you sustained injuries in an accident that another person caused, the law may entitle you to compensation. Typically, the compensation parties recover through personal injury claims are meant to compensate them for actual damages, such as medical bills, lost wages and property damage. However, in certain circumstances, the courts may award punitive damages.

Whereas the courts award compensatory damages to compensate victims, they award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter similar future behavior. Some states do not award punitive damages, while others have strict rules about when and how courts may award them. Wisconsin is one of the latter states.

When the Wisconsin courts may award punitive damages

Per CaseText, Wis. Stat. § 895.043, you may recover punitive damages in Wisconsin if you can prove, through convincing evidence, that the defendant’s actions were malicious and willful and directed at you. The courts may also award punitive damages if you can show that the defendant acted without any regard for your rights or safety.

If you can establish that the defendant acted maliciously, willfully and with disregard for you, you must then establish a prima facie case for the allowance of exemplary damages. What this means if that you must show that the defendant has wealth or assets enough to afford the set award.

Cap on punitive damages

Wisconsin legislature limits how much in exemplary damages personal injury victims may recover. If you file for punitive damages, you may only recover up to twice the amount of your compensatory damages or $200,000, whichever is greater. However, this cap assumes that you did not sustain your injuries in an accident that involved a motor vehicle, off-highway motorcycle, all-terrain or utility vehicle, snowmobile, boat or an intoxicated person. Also, it is important to note that Wisconsin does allow for “treble damages,” which means you can collect up to three times your compensatory damages in extreme cases.