Punitive Damages: Are They Available to You in Your Case?
Posted on December 6, 2018
When you have been involved in a car accident with another driver who you know acted negligently, you might have a right to compensation as you move forward with your case. There are many types of damages that you might qualify for, from those that include non-economic damages like pain and suffering to those that include economic damages such as lost wages and medical bills. But what happens if somebody acted with especially negligent behavior? You might qualify for a completely different type of damage: Punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are unlike any other types of damages that you will receive in a case. Punitive damages, unlike others, are not used to make the plaintiff whole again through compensation, but instead to punish the defendant. Punitive damages will not be prevalent in every single type of personal injury case, especially when an accident is just that – an accident.
If somebody has injured you in an intentional or completely reckless way, you might have a right to bring a claim for these damages. An example of this is if you have been injured in an accident where the other driver was driving while under the influence of alcohol. If you can show that the driver made such a reckless decision to get behind the wheel of a car and caused your injuries, you might receive compensation for medical costs, lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and more. These damages are a way for the court to tell the defendant “Do not engage in these acts” and deter them from happening in the future.
The Downside to Punitive Damages
Punitive damages can serve a great purpose, which is to keep plaintiffs safe in the future. However, the courts have also realized that these damages can sometimes get out of control. For instance, let’s say that in that same scenario, you only received $10,000 in injury damages from the drunk driver. Would it be fair for the court to ask the drunk driver to pay $10,000,000 in punitive damages, which they probably wouldn’t be able to do throughout the course of their life? Punitive damages, therefore, tend to be limited in many states. Courts will be rigorous as they attempt to dictate whether or not these types of damages should qualify in your case.
There are also limits put on these types of damages so that they do not fall under a degree of being ‘unconstitutional.’ Courts follow specific formulas that keep these types of damages in check so that they are considered to be ‘reasonable’ based on the circumstances and what a defendant is actually able to pay.
Receiving damages after you have been injured can be a relief when you have suffered immensely. At Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, you have many rights as you move forward with your case so that you can get started on receiving the compensation you deserve during this difficult time. We will help you from start to finish as it pertains to your case, helping you gather evidence and work toward results. Contact us for more information at 304-431-4050.
Note: Secondary sources were used to create this piece and, because of this, the information included has not been independently verified. If you notice a factual issue with our posting, please bring it to our attention and we will correct or remove it as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: Our intent in these posts it to bring attention to the dangers members in our community face and to encourage caution. Accidents do happen and we hope these posts help those affected. However, this information should not be misconstrued as legal or medical advice, and we urge you to contact a trained legal professional for more information regarding your specific situation.