What Are The Criteria For Recovering Punitive Damages In Wyoming?

When a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for their losses. In many cases, this compensation takes the form of monetary damages. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for their losses, while punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future. In this article, we will discuss the criteria for recovering punitive damages in Wyoming.

Definition of Punitive Damages

According to Wyoming law, punitive damages are defined as "an amount of damages to be awarded by a trier of fact to a plaintiff in a civil action in addition to compensatory damages, which is intended to punish the defendant for his or her willful and wanton misconduct." Essentially, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.

Burden of Proof

In order to recover punitive damages in Wyoming, the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or oppression. Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard used in most civil cases. It requires the plaintiff to show that it is highly probable that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or oppression.

Malice, Fraud, or Oppression

Malice, fraud, or oppression are the three categories of conduct that can give rise to an award of punitive damages in Wyoming.

  • Malice: Malice is defined as a state of mind that reflects a disregard for the rights of others. It is an intentional act that is done with the knowledge that it will harm another person.

  • Fraud: Fraud is a deliberate deception that is designed to deprive another person of their property or money. It can include misrepresentations, omissions, or concealment of material facts.

  • Oppression: Oppression is conduct that is intentional and outrageous. It involves actions that are so extreme and outrageous that they go beyond the bounds of decency.

Limitations on Punitive Damages

Wyoming law places certain limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a civil case. For example, the amount of punitive damages cannot exceed the amount of compensatory damages awarded. Additionally, punitive damages are limited to the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, not to exceed $1,000,000.

Conclusion

Recovering punitive damages in Wyoming requires the plaintiff to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or oppression. Malice involves a disregard for the rights of others, fraud is a deliberate deception, and oppression is conduct that is intentional and outrageous. There are also limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. If you believe you are entitled to punitive damages in Wyoming, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

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