Punitive Damages in an Auto Accident
By Mike Stetzer
If you've recently been in a car accident, you're likely wondering kind of compensation you will be able to receive for your injuries. A common concern is whether an auto injury claim will result in punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not usually available in auto accident claims, but they may be awarded in specific, egregious circumstances, such as when the party that caused the accident was under the influence of a controlled substance or caused the wreck intentionally.
To learn more about whether you'll be able to seek punitive damages after your car accident, speak with a local personal injury lawyer. You can get a free case evaluation with an injury lawyer near you when you complete the free form on this page.
Seeking Punitive Damages in a Car Accident
Most of the damages awarded after an auto accident are aimed at making the victim of the accident "whole" again. That is, damages are typically awarded to promote the health of the victim, rather than punish the wrongdoer.
However, punitive damages are sometimes pursued in the wake of an auto accident. This type of damages are meant to punish the party at fault and discourage others from doing similar harm. They are not typically awarded and can be very difficult to obtain. Listed below are a few facts about punitive damages in an auto accident:
- Since most car accidents are not caused intentionally, they do not warrant punishment of the wayward driver.
- However, if a car accident is caused by intentional wrongdoing, punitive damages may become more appealing to a judge or jury.
- In addition, if a car accident is caused by a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, punitive damages may come into play.
While punitive damages may be available for your car accident lawsuit, sometimes the decision to pursue them becomes a strategic question. On occasion, an attorney may choose not to pursue punitive damages in order to secure a larger amount of more traditional damages.
Your injury attorney will be able to further explain the pros and cons of seeking punitive damages in a car accident case.
Other Damages in an Auto Accident
In addition to punitive damages, you may also be able to receive compensation for a number of other damages. In fact, these other types of damages are awarded more frequently than punitive damages in an auto accident case.
Other losses for which you may be able to recover money from the guilty party include:
- Damage to your car or other property
- Diminished quality of life
- Lost earning ability
- Lost time at work
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
In addition to these damages and depending on your state's laws, your spouse may also be able to recover damages under a legal doctrine known as loss of consortium.
If you have recently been in a car accident, connect with a local injury attorney today to see if you may be eligible to pursue punitive or other types of damages.