Ask a Car Accident Lawyer: What Are Punitive Damages?

Every year, tens of thousands of people are killed or permanently disabled due to the reckless behavior of other drivers. If you’ve been in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can get compensation for your losses, which might include your medical bills and your lost wages. With the help of a good car accident lawyer, you might also get awarded compensation for punitive damages, but this depends on your individual situation.

Ask a Car Accident Lawyer: What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to the regular compensation if the behavior of the responsible party was particularly outrageous. As the name suggests, they are designed as a form of punishment. In the vast majority of cases, punitive damages are not awarded for car accidents and other personal injury cases. Only around 5% of civil lawsuits and court cases involve a punitive element.

However, you might be entitled to this extra compensation if you were the victim of a driver who displayed recklessness, gross negligence, or willful or wanton behavior. An experienced car accident attorney will evaluate your situation and determine whether you should focus on getting compensated for your injuries or whether you can also ask for punitive damages.

Am I Entitled to Punitive Damages?

Most people aren’t entitled to punitive damages even if their injuries are severe or if a loved one passed away as a result of a crash. Accidents happen, and if the other person simply neglected to uphold their duty, they won’t have to pay additional compensation.

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Occasionally, the behavior of the responsible party is so outrageous that the court decides they need to be sanctioned further.mSome of the factors that are taken into consideration include the nature of the person’s behavior, how likely it is that the action will be repeated in the future, what damage could be done to other people if the behavior recurs, and how much you, the plaintiff, are suffering as a result of the crash. The assets the defendant has will also be considered.

What Are Recklessness, Gross Negligence, and Willful or Wanton Behavior?

For you to be awarded punitive damages, the defendant’s behavior has to be very unreasonable. An example could be people playing “chicken”, which is a competition where two cars drive toward each other, and the first driver who swerves away loses. If you got injured as a result of someone else’s game of “chicken”, for example, because you were in the way when they swerved, you might get awarded extra compensation.

In some cases, drunk driving can also be a reason for punitive damages, but only if the driver was extremely drunk, for instance, if they passed out while behind the wheel. Similarly, your lawyer might argue that a person who knowingly drove a vehicle with a severe mechanical default could have acted in a reckless manner.

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Should I Ask for Punitive Damages?

Not every accident warrants punitive damages. Most of the time, personal injury lawyers advise their clients to request compensation for their injuries and property damage. If you can prove that you have high medical bills, you can no longer earn the same as before, your property was damaged or destroyed, or you have to get help for mental health conditions like PTSD, it’s likely that you’ll get compensated for your losses.

The best way to find out whether you’re eligible for punitive compensation is to speak to your attorney. They will assess whether the negligent behavior was serious enough to warrant a financial punishment.

How Can I Get the Best Result?

Most people who have been in a car crash receive a settlement in the low five figures. While this can help to cover the medical bills and the repairs to the car, it often isn’t enough, especially if the plaintiff was seriously hurt or is suffering from mental health issues like post-traumatic stress. When you’re injured, you might not have the capacity to insist on your rights, and you might accept a subpar settlement due to pressure from the other party’s insurers.

To prevent this, speak to a car accident lawyer in Bryan, TX. They will consider all aspects of your case to determine how much compensation you are entitled to, and they will help you gather the necessary evidence. What’s more, the lawyer will support you throughout the case and help you with the paperwork, so you don’t have to worry about missing deadlines or making a mistake that could cost you a part of your compensation.

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After a car accident, the responsible party has to pay compensatory damages, but punitive damages might be an option if the behavior of the driver went beyond standard negligence. As soon as you feel well enough, speak to an experienced car accident attorney, who can evaluate your case and let you know whether you can seek punitive damages or whether you should focus on getting compensation for your injuries.