The word "punitive" might provide you with a clue as to what this form of damage is all about. When you have been hurt because of a car accident, the driver that caused your injuries might not just be careless. Read on to learn what it means to be awarded punitive damages after a car accident.
What Are Punitive Damages?
In accident terms, damages refer to all sorts of ways a victim can be harmed. For example, most auto accident victims will experience damages that range from medical expenses and lost wages to vehicle repairs and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages, though, are meant to punish wrongdoers. The punishment may be aimed at a driver or at the business that employed a driver. Punitive damages mean more money for an accident victim. The amount awarded varies greatly. The jury that decides your case and the judge that presides are the ones that decide on whether punitive damages are appropriate and how much to award.
When Are Punitive Damages Appropriate?
In most cases, punitive damages are reserved for special situations. Most auto accidents are the result of carelessness. However, some drivers take actions that go beyond carelessness. When a driver's actions are so negligent that they lead to an accident, punitive damages may be merited.
Here are a few examples of some accidents that could merit punitive damages:
- A prominent delivery service driver is speeding when they cause an accident. The company routinely fires drivers for not delivering their full loads daily.
- A drunk driver hits a vehicle, and the occupants are seriously injured. The drunk driver was leaving a festival that features free beer with a ticket purchase.
- A driver's brakes failed, and they were injured when the vehicle caused a chain reaction crash on the freeway. The brakes were found to be defective.
What Victims Should Do
You never know when your accident could be appropriate for punitive damages. If your case merits punitive damages, the money awarded could exceed your other damages by a large margin. However, you must make the right moves.
- Don't speak to anyone about the accident and don't post on social media either.
- Seek medical treatment and follow all medical advice.
- Speak to a lawyer right away. They can help you determine the potential for a trial rather than a settlement.
Contact a local auto accident attorney to learn more about punitive damages after an accident.