In order to be awarded any punitive damages, you have to show that the medical provider’s conduct was worse than negligent. Conduct that justifies punitive damages being awarded characterizes conduct that the public policy of a state finds reprehensible usually this is an intentional act or an act done with reckless indifference to the rights of others. Other cases where punitive damages were awarded were where doctors promised a certain result of a treatment that they have no control over and therefore could not know what the outcome of the treatment would be.
Another reason punitive damages can be awarded is that the health care provider failed to provide the patient with informed consent. These damages are not only intended to punish the wrongdoer but are also meant to be a deterrent to others who may consider behaving in the same manner. Around half of the states have no limits on a number of punitive damages that can be awarded. The remaining states have limitations; some limits for damages are three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000 whichever is greater. Other states cap damages awarded at $250,000.