When Are Punitive Damages Awarded in Car Accident Lawsuits?
Punitive damages are awarded in car accident lawsuits when you can prove that the at-fault party’s behavior was especially egregious or malicious. A car accident lawyer can help you assess your punitive damages eligibility and, if you qualify, determine how much money you should seek for punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are the rarest type of compensation that a personal injury survivor can ask for. Unlike other types of damages, they do not correspond to a particular injury or loss, such as disability or medical expenses. Rather, their purpose is purely to punish the at-fault party.
Punitive damages acknowledge that the responsible party’s actions went beyond ordinary negligence. They are intended to deter people from engaging in deliberately dangerous behavior.Punitive Damages in Car Crash Cases
Many motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligence. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,500 people in the U.S. died after a collision with a distracted driver in 2021.
Distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving are all examples of negligence. While potentially devastating, they are not enough to justify punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded in car accident lawsuits when:
- A driver tries to deliberately run you off the road
- A driver exhibits threatening or dangerous behavior towards you over an extended stretch of road
- A car part manufacturer repeatedly fails to ensure your safety, despite having definitive proof that their product could malfunction and cause harm
It can be difficult to determine if any given accident was caused by a malicious act worthy of punitive damages rather than simple carelessness. A car accident attorney can investigate your case and let you know what kinds of damages you are entitled to ask for.
How to Get Punitive Damages for a Car Accident
If you want to ask for car accident injury compensation, that is your right, but you have a limited time to exercise that right. This time limit varies from state to state. In Florida, for instance, the limit is two years, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11. Therefore, your first step to recovering damages is to file your case in a timely fashion.
You can let a car accident law firm manage your case for you. They can ensure you fulfill all of your legal obligations, including:
- Filing your case within the statute of limitations
- Collecting evidence to build your casefile
- Communicating with the liable party and their team
- Seeing if the liable party’s insurer is willing to negotiate a settlement
- Taking your case to court and working to persuade a jury that you deserve compensation, including punitive damages
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a loved one’s passing, check that whatever fort Myers car accident lawyer you hire has experience with both car accident cases and wrongful death cases.
Getting Punitive Damages Requires Strong Evidence
To receive punitive damages after a fort lauderdale car accident lawyer , you need to have an especially persuasive case. This requires finding sufficient evidence of both the liable party’s bad behavior and of the connection between your injuries and their actions.
Your lawyer may try to prove that you are eligible for punitive damages by collecting evidence from many sources, including:
- A statement from you detailing everything you remember about how the car accident happened (especially with regard to the at-fault party’s actions)
- Video footage, such as from traffic or surveillance cameras, that caught the liable party’s malicious behavior on tape
- Testimony from witnesses who saw all or part of the collision
- Testimony from experts who can further establish that your accident injuries could only have occurred through extreme negligence
- Any previous complaints, arrests, or convictions against the liable party to establish that they have a history of this type of behavior
Punitive damages are very hard—but not impossible—to recover after a traffic accident. If you are entitled to such damages, your car crash lawyer can work relentlessly to prove it.
What if You Do Not Qualify for Punitive Damages?
As previously discussed, punitive damages are only awarded in the most extraordinary circumstances. If you do not qualify for these damages, do not be discouraged. You can still recover damages based on:
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Medical costs
- Property damages
- Loss of wages and benefits
- Loss of earning capacity
A Miami car accident lawyer can fight hard to ensure that your family gets all of the compensation you deserve, whether that includes punitive damages or not.
We Help Clients With Car Accident Lawsuits
The Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato can tell you more about punitive damages in car accident lawsuits, including when they are awarded and how much you could receive altogether. Contact us today by calling (954) 633-8270 for a free case evaluation.