Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler March 24, 2016

If you find yourself navigating the legal seas to get a settlement for your pain and suffering, you will be introduced to the terms “compensatory,” “punitive,” “nominal,” and “liquidated” damages. Nominal damages are often awarded when the court is trying to make a point about the case in general or to one of the parties involved, and it is often an amount somewhere near one dollar. Liquidated damages are outlined directly in contracts, and the courts must decide how much is to be awarded to the plaintiff in liquidated damages based on the conditions of the contract. Those two types of damages are fairly straightforward, but compensatory and punitive damages are a bit more difficult to explain.

Compensatory damages (also referred to as actual damages) are awards given to pay for any income lost as a result of the defendant’s actions. These would include lost income, the cost of property damage, and medical costs both immediate and long-term. When it comes to compensatory damages, the courts have an easy task, as these awards are tied to paperwork provided by the plaintiff in regard to amounts of money that were lost as a result of the negligent action.

Punitive damages are awards intended to punish the defendant for their actions and cannot be awarded without there being a compensatory award first. Punitive damages are what most people refer to as “pain and suffering,” and they are awarded solely at the discretion of the court. In most states, there is a 4:1 ratio between punitive and compensatory damages that is used as a formula by the court. If the compensatory damages are $50,000 and the court feels that punitive damages are appropriate, then that damage amount will usually be around $200,000. In the past, judgments that have awarded punitive damages with a ratio of more than 10:1 have been overturned as unconstitutional. In order for a plaintiff to be awarded punitive damages, the court must be able to determine that the acts of the defendant were intentional and those acts resulted in real pain and suffering for the plaintiff.

The primary point of contention when it comes to determining punitive damages is assigning negligence. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and create a financial award for the plaintiff that will deter the defendant from ever committing a similar act of negligence in the future. In determining the negligence of the defendant, courts will also consider the contributory negligence of the plaintiff. If it is determine that the plaintiff contributed to the negligent act in some way, whether intentional or unintentional, then that will affect whether or not there are punitive damages handed out. In most states, courts will assign a percentage of contributory negligence to the plaintiff and then use that percentage to determine how much of the final compensation is actually awarded. For example, if the court determines 20 percent contributory negligence on a possible award of $100,000, then the plaintiff would get $80,000.

FREE Case Review

Testimonials

Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
Jim Adler only offer nothing less than a great experience. They are a very well-established organization. They are outstanding on keeping you up to date with cases. There's no beating around the bush with this organization as they are only straight forward with the whole process. They treat their customers like family as well as go above and beyond to fight cases for you only leaving you with nothing but the best experience. Easy 5-star rated organization. I would highly recommend this one organization you not look over.
Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
See All Reviews
If you’ve been seriously injured, get The Tough, Smart Lawyer! ®
Get Help Right Now
Principal Office Houston, TX