Kansas Punitive Damages Lawyer - Punitive Awards in Lenexa, KS | Exemplary Damages

 

When are punitive damages available in Kansas?

Kansas allows punitive damages in certain cases where the defendant acted toward the plaintiff with willful conduct, wanton conduct, fraud or malice.

Although the goal of the law is generally to compensate plaintiffs for their injuries, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages as a way of punishing the defendant and preventing similar conduct in the future.  In this regard, punitive damages are separate and distinct from compensatory damages, which compensate victims for financial losses suffered due to the defendant’s conduct.

However, punitive damages are not available in all Kansas wrongful death lawsuits. Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant’s behavior was intentional or with reckless disregard for another 's life. Thus, the negligence must be gross in order for a victim to recover punitiive damages.

Even in cases where these criteria are met, however, a court will not grant punitive damages as a matter of law. Instead, a jury may at its discretion decide on an award of punitive damages when they feel it is warranted by the egregiousness of the defendant's actions.

If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death suit, contact a Lenexa wrongful death lawyer today.  Further information on wrongful death damages is available here.

Finally, punitive damages may be available in some maritime injury and offshore injury cases when seaman are involved in an on-the-job accident.  For example, under the Jones Act, an employer may automatically be held liable for punitive damages for arbitrarily and capriciously denying payment of maintenance and/or cure benefits.  For more information regarding maritime injuries and a list of qualified Lenexa maritime attorneys, click here.

Kansas law does provide for a "cap" on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded unless certain circumstances are present.  If the "cap" does apply, the punitive damages cap is set at up to $5 million dollars depending on the income of the defendant.

The following are the Kansas laws on Punitive Damages. These laws apply in Lenexa, KS Punitive Damage Law cases.

60-3701. Punitive and exemplary damages;  separate proceeding for determination of amount; considerations; limitations; maximum amount of award;  application limited

(a) In any civil action in which exemplary or punitive damages are recoverable,  the trier of fact shall determine, concurrent with all other issues presented,  whether such damages shall be allowed. If such damages are allowed, a separate  proceeding shall be conducted by the court to determine the amount of such damages to be awarded.
(b) At a proceeding to determine the amount of exemplary or punitive damages to be awarded under this section, the court may consider:
    (1) The likelihood at the time of the alleged misconduct that serious harm would  arise from the defendant's misconduct;
    (2) the degree of the defendant's awareness of that likelihood;
    (3) the profitability of the defendant's misconduct;
    (4) the duration of the misconduct and any intentional concealment of it;
    (5) the attitude and conduct of the defendant upon discovery of the misconduct;
    (6) the financial condition of the defendant;  and
    (7) the total deterrent effect of other damages and punishment imposed upon the defendant as a result of the misconduct, including, but not limited to, compensatory, exemplary and punitive damage awards to persons in situations  similar to those of the claimant and the severity of the criminal penalties to which the defendant has been or may be subjected. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the court shall determine the amount of exemplary or punitive damages to be awarded and shall enter judgment for that  amount.
(c) In any civil action where claims for exemplary or punitive damages are included, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving, by clear and  convincing evidence in the initial phase of the trial, that the defendant acted toward the plaintiff with willful conduct, wanton conduct, fraud or malice.
(d) In no case shall exemplary or punitive damages be assessed pursuant to this section against:
(1) A principal or employer for the acts of an agent or employee unless the questioned conduct was authorized or ratified by a person expressly empowered to do so on behalf of the principal or employer; or
(2) an association, partnership or corporation for the acts of a member, partner or shareholder unless such association, partnership or corporation authorized or ratified the questioned conduct.
(e) Except as provided by subsection (f), no award of exemplary or punitive damages pursuant to this section shall exceed the lesser of:
    (1) The annual gross income earned by the defendant, as determined by the court  based upon the defendant's highest gross annual income earned for any one of the five years immediately before the act for which such damages are awarded; or
    (2) $5 million.
(f) In lieu of the limitation provided by subsection (e), if the court finds that the profitability of the defendant's misconduct exceeds or is expected to exceed the limitation of subsection (e), the limitation on the amount of exemplary or punitive damages which the court may award shall be an amount equal  to 1 1/2 times the amount of profit which the defendant gained or is expected  to gain as a result of the defendant's misconduct.
(g) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any action governed by another statute establishing or limiting the amount of exemplary or punitive damages, or prescribing procedures for the award of such damages, in such  action.
(h) As used in this section the terms defined in K.S.A. 60-3401 and amendments thereto shall have the meaning provided by that statute.
(i) The provisions of this section shall apply only to an action based upon a cause of action accruing on or after July 1, 1987 and before July 1, 1988.

60-3702. Same; trier of fact determines whether damages allowed; separate proceeding for determination of amount; considerations; limitations; maximum amount of award

(a) In any civil action in which exemplary or punitive damages are recoverable, the trier of fact shall determine, concurrent with all other issues presented, whether such damages shall be allowed. If such damages are allowed, a separate proceeding shall be conducted by the court to determine the amount of such damages to be awarded.
(b) At a proceeding to determine the amount of exemplary or punitive damages to be awarded under this section, the court may consider:
    (1) The likelihood at the time of the alleged misconduct that serious harm would arise from the defendant's misconduct;
    (2) the degree of the defendant's awareness of that likelihood;
    (3) the profitability of the defendant's misconduct;
    (4) the duration of the misconduct and any intentional concealment of it;
    (5) the attitude and conduct of the defendant upon discovery of the misconduct;
    (6) the financial condition of the defendant; and
    (7) the total deterrent effect of other damages and punishment imposed upon the defendant as a result of the misconduct, including, but not limited to, compensatory, exemplary and punitive damage awards to persons in situations similar to those of the claimant and the severity of the criminal penalties to which the defendant has been or may be subjected. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the court shall determine the amount of exemplary or punitive damages to be awarded and shall enter judgment for that amount.
(c) In any civil action where claims for exemplary or punitive damages are included, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence in the initial phase of the trial, that the defendant acted toward the plaintiff with willful conduct, wanton conduct, fraud or malice.
(d) In no case shall exemplary or punitive damages be assessed pursuant to this section against:
    (1) A principal or employer for the acts of an agent or employee unless the conduct was authorized or ratified by a person expressly empowered to do so on behalf of the principal or employer; or
    (2) an association, partnership or corporation for the acts of a member, partner or shareholder unless such association, partnership or corporation authorized or ratified the questioned conduct.
(e) Except as provided by subsection (f), no award of exemplary or punitive
damages pursuant to this section shall exceed the lesser of:
    (1) The annual gross income earned by the defendant, as determined by the court based upon the defendant's highest gross annual income earned for any one of the five years immediately before the act for which such damages are awarded, unless the court determines such amount is clearly inadequate to penalize the defendant, then the court may award up to 50% of the net worth of the defendant, as determined by the court; or
    (2) $5 million.
(f) In lieu of the limitation provided by subsection (e), if the court finds that the profitability of the defendant's misconduct exceeds or is expected to exceed the limitation of subsection (e), the limitation on the amount of exemplary or punitive damages which the court may award shall be an amount equal to 1   1/2 times the amount of profit which the defendant gained or is expected to gain as a result of the defendant's misconduct.
(g) As used in this section the terms defined in K.S.A. 60-3401, and amendments thereto, shall have the meaning provided by that statute.
(h) The provisions of this section shall apply only to an action based upon a cause of action accruing on or after July 1, 1988.