Punitive Damages: Nevada’s Law

Damages are the sum of money that is awarded in compensation for a loss or injury in a civil lawsuit. There are three types of damages that a person can receive:

  1. Economic Damages: damages that cover financial losses associated with injuries
  2. Noneconomic Damages: damages that compensate for pain, emotional anguish, humiliation, reputational damages and loss of enjoyment. 
  3. Punitive Damages: are damages awarded to exceed simple compensation and to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct or to deter the defendant or others from engaging in similar conduct. 

Nevada’s Punitive Damage Guidelines

According to the Nevada Jury Instructions, In a lawsuit, if a jury finds that a plaintiff suffered damage as a result of the defendant’s conduct, and that the defendant is liable, damages will be awarded to the plaintiff. If the defendant’s conduct was egregious enough, a jury may consider awarding punitive or exemplary damages to make an example of the defendant or punish them. A jury can award punitive damages only if they find by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was guilty of: 

  • Oppression: despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship with conscious disregard of the rights of that person;
  • Fraud: intentional misrepresentation, deception or concealment of a material fact known to a defendant with the intent to injure or deprive a person of rights or property; or
  • Malice: conduct which is intended to injure a person or despicable conduct which is engaged in with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. 

The law provides no fixed standards as to the amount of punitive damages and leaves the decision up to a jury’s sound discretion. In arriving at any award of punitive damages, a jury is to consider the following: 

  1. The reprehensibility of the conduct of the defendant;
  2. The amount of punitive damages which will serve the purposes of punishment and deterrence, taking into account the defendant’s financial condition. 

Nevada Revised Statute 42.005 also provides some guidelines for awarding punitive damages:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section or by specific statute, an award of exemplary or punitive damages made pursuant to this section may not exceed:

(a) Three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff if the amount of compensatory damages is $100,000 or more; or

(b) Three hundred thousand dollars if the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff is less than $100,000.

2.  The limitations on the amount of an award of exemplary or punitive damages prescribed in subsection 1 do not apply to an action brought against:

      (a) A manufacturer, distributor or seller of a defective product;

      (b) An insurer who acts in bad faith regarding its obligations to provide insurance coverage;

      (c) A person for violating a state or federal law prohibiting discriminatory housing practices,    if the law provides for a remedy of exemplary or punitive damages in excess of the limitations prescribed in subsection 1;

      (d) A person for damages or an injury caused by the emission, disposal or spilling of a toxic, radioactive or hazardous material or waste; or

      (e) A person for defamation”.

If you have questions about a case, contact a wrongful death lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, like the professionals at Eglet Adams, for their insight on excluding prior unrelated medical conditions at trial.