When Punitive Damages Are Awarded in a Car Accident Case

Understanding Car Accident Damages in lawsuits

Suppose you are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. In that case, you may recover compensation for medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and other losses by filing an injury lawsuit. Knowing about car accident damages is crucial if you’ve been side-swiped by the legal aftermath of a car accident. In some cases, punitive damages may also be pursued and awarded to accident victims. Understanding when punitive damages may come into play can help you better evaluate the prospects for your auto accident injury claim.

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Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages

Compensatory damages aim to make an accident victim “whole” again financially by providing money to compensate for their tangible and intangible losses.

Punitive damages serve a different purpose; they are designed to punish and deter truly egregious, reckless behavior that shows a conscious disregard for others’ safety. Punitive damages act as a form of punishment for the wrongdoer and a warning to discourage such harmful conduct in the future, rather than simply compensating the victim for actual losses. To successfully claim punitive damages, you will need the help of reputed attorneys like the car accident attorneys from Finkelstein & Partners.

When may punitive damages potentially apply?

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Punitive damages may be pursued against a grossly negligent driver whose actions behind the wheel demonstrated an exceptionally reckless disregard for human life and the safety of others sharing the road. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can thoroughly review the particular circumstances of your accident and advise if the at-fault driver’s extremely irresponsible conduct was negligent enough to potentially warrant claiming punitive damages in addition to standard compensatory damages.

Remember, only some states allow plaintiffs to claim punitive damages. Other states don’t give punitive damages, even if the defendant’s actions were egregious. You can claim punitive damages only through a lawsuit. It is not possible to claim punitive damages in a settlement. 

You may claim for punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were:

  • Grossly negligent
  • Reckless
  • Malicious
  • Willful disregard for others’ safety

Punitive damage caps and limitations

If awarded, punitive damages are generally capped at a certain maximum multiple of the compensatory damages awarded. Experienced personal injury and auto accident attorneys are very familiar with the caps and restrictions in place when pursuing claims for appropriate punitive damages within the bounds of both state laws and judicial precedent.

Consult a knowledgeable attorney for a case evaluation

Those who have been catastrophically injured by the exceptionally reckless and endangering behavior of others should discuss their particular case facts and prospects with a qualified, compassionate car accident attorney. An attorney experienced in these types of cases can thoroughly examine the full scope of losses, hardships, and liability evidence to assess if the at-fault motorist’s misconduct and overall degree of negligence might make punitive damages an applicable and warranted element of the overall compensation pursuable.

If so, the attorney can then meticulously build the strongest possible case through accumulated evidence, testimony, accident reconstruction, and more to compellingly demonstrate and verify the justification for seeking sizable punitive damages from the defendant. In some severe injury cases arising from egregiously irresponsible driving conduct, the ability to successfully prove and recover punitive damages can mean the difference between inadequate compensation and the maximum recovery the injured victim deserves.

Final Thoughts About Car Accident Damages

In the rearview mirror of a car accident case, Car Accident Damages reflect a complex legal landscape. We’ve explored the lanes of compensatory and punitive damages. Remember, expert legal counsel can steer you toward the compensation you rightfully deserve. Keep this guide handy as you journey through your legal recovery process.


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