A good article in the August issue of JLT’s (Broker) Plane Talking on “Beware the Peril of Punitive Damages.” Michael McGrory discusses the difference between compensatory damages and punitive damages. He writes that in aviation cases punitive damages are rare and therefore many insurers and their counsel disregard those claims. He advises against this and presents two good examples.
Adding to this, I think the article is also an example of why the CEO and corporate staff need to play a larger role in the aftermath of a loss and understand the big picture. It also highlights the need for independent experienced counsel, those who can advise the CEO of all aspects and potentials following a loss.
Finally, the lack of punitive cases supports the idea that in the aftermath of loss what most families are looking for is not punishment for the operator, but just to be made whole. To be dealt with fairly and honestly. When they are not, the anger comes in and so does the desire for punishment. So many operators today focus on solving this with the family / humanitarian assistance. A proper and planned response, coupled with knowledgeable counsel and insurers goes a long way in helping keep the response (and settlement is part of response) on track for everyone.