What Punitive Damage Is
Today there exist legal policies that are aimed solely at preventing crimes rather than gunning for the wrong doers after the crime has taken place. Punishments are in place with the intention of deterring others from committing any sort of activities that are deemed illegal or fraudulent. One of the biggest examples for the same is Punitive damages. So you might be wondering what is punitive damages? Well, this post will explain in detail about punitive damages and you can use this knowledge in future legal endeavors.
If you go by the rulebooks, punitive damages are those that are awarded to the plaintiff in a lawsuit with the intention of sending out a message to potential wrong doers. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff can claim damages in the name of Punitive damages from the defendant if the plaintiff can provide enough evidence to prove that the defendant made a malicious move or that his conduct was reckless and caused severe violations of the plaintiff’s rights.
Also known the world over as exemplary damages, punitive damages can be claimed by the plaintiff for any loss that he or she suffers because of the harm done to him or her due to the direct involvement of the defendant. If we look at a civil point of view, then punitive damages serve as an important and landmark judgment. The victim who is compensated might find justification for the harm done to him and it is also in the best interests of the society. Additional damage costs extracted from the defendant in this way will mean that potential violators will think twice before committing a crime.
Punitive Damage And Its Meaning
What makes it different from other compensatory awards is that it is less predictable as compared to others. The main reason is that they do not occur frequently in verdicts. Most of the time, federal and even state judiciaries have a say in the amount paid as the punitive damage. Mostly if the compensatory amount that the defendant pays to the victim or plaintiff is higher, then punitive damages may be shortened or even waived off at times.
Whatever be the case, punitive damages indeed prove to be a highly deterring factor for people who engage in potential fraudulent practices. The amount of compensation that needs to be paid in this regard becomes too heavy and hence people see it better to avoid doing the crime.
The knowledge of what is punitive damages should be spread across the society so that more people are made aware of it and more people will be deterred from malicious acts.
Auto accident cases
Are you wondering how punitive damages are different form the usual compensatory damages? Then read on. You might find this article an interesting read.
So what is punitive damages? As the name implies, punitive damages, sometimes also known as exemplary damages are the punishments that are meted out to an individual held guilty. The main purpose of punishing the individual is to lay an example so as to discourage others from committing similar wrongdoings in the future. For this reason, the amount that is awarded as punitive damages is often much greater than the measurable valuable of the injury caused or the losses incurred. At times punitive damages could also take the form of time in prison.
In the case of auto accidents, punitive damages may be awarded if it can be proved that the defendant was drunk or under the influence of harmful drugs at the time of the accident. Such a person can be charged for committing manslaughter. Such a person need only be proved as being drunk, negligent in following traffic rules or gross disregard to human life and property.
Medical professionals too can be sued for negligence. Indeed more number of such professionals is brought before the court by grieving families than any other person. This is because they feel that hospital deaths could have been prevented if such person had shown concern towards the victim and had acted differently. However, the law, as it stands today, requires medics to prove that they had exercised reasonable care while treating their patients. The law recognizes the difficulty of being in the medical industry and that such professionals would not on purpose cause the death of one of their patients. The court also recognizes the grieving family and gives a chance to both sides to clarify their stand.
The amount that can be awarded as punitive damages will depend on the particulars of each case. If it can be shown that defendant acted with pure malicious intent then enormous amounts can be awarded as compensation. Previous cases of punitive damages will also be huge deciding factor. Also,
Discourage individuals from doing wrong
unlike the compensatory damage considerations, the defendant’s net worth will also be taken into consideration while deciding on the amount to be awarded as punitive damages.
Now you know what is punitive damages. As the amount awarded is way higher than plaintiff’s provable injuries, not all personal injury lawsuits are awarded the punitive damages. The court must have substantial evidence proving that the defendant behaved in a reckless and outrageous manner which is not as easy it seems.
Punitive Damages Law Suit
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.
Punitive Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
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.