Car accident claims could be in the form of compensatory damages wherein the victim is adequately compensated monetarily for the loss of property or injuries sustained. Punitive damages can be awarded alongside compensatory damages in a motorcycle accident lawsuit. It is for the attorneys and finally the court to ascertain whether a car accident case is eligible for punitive award.
What is Punitive Damages?
A simple literary translation of the word punitive would suffice to understand that there is element of punishment in the form of damages awarded against the person responsible for the accident. The actions due to negligence of the offender become punitive when such negligence happens intentionally or by any voluntary act as in the case of accidents due to drunk driving.
What should you do to claim punitive damages?
Follow these guidelines.
Ascertain whether the driver responsible for the accident was influenced by alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Once you ascertain that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, look for intent to cause accident. If there is proof that the accident was caused with malicious intent in the form of a statement from the driver to the effect, then you can establish a strong case for claiming punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages.
Try to analyze if the driver drove the vehicle recklessly and if you find any proof to establish the same, your chances of winning the case is high. Actions that constitute recklessness include exceeding the speed limit intentionally or under the influence of alcohol, indulging in cell phone conversation or text messaging etc.
Look for motives such as animosity between the offender and the victim to constitute a vindictive attitude resulting in willful negligence Your allegations in the claim petition should enumerate all of these in a conspicuous manner at the time of filing, leaving no chance for the defendant to contend at a later stage that he had no notice of being framed for punitive damages.
In the order of the court, the base award will always be compensatory in nature and punitive damages are calculated in addition to the former and it is not mandatory to award punitive damages in the absence of adequate evidence.
Hope this article enabled you to know what is ‘punitive damages’ in a car accident claim and under what circumstances you can include that in a claim for compensatory damages.