If you are involved in a traffic accident where the other party was partially or fully at fault, you can be compensated for things like medical bills and lost income, but you may be entitled to more depending on the circumstances of the accident. If the liable party acted in a particularly egregious manner, you may be able to collect what’s known as punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded as compensation as a way to punish the defendant for their actions and provide more financial opportunities for victims who were injured as a result of reckless or careless actions. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of car accident cases are caused by ordinary negligence, so punitive damages aren’t available in standard accidents. For example, just because the other driver failed to check their blind spot or they were going over the speed limit and couldn’t stop in time, these likely wouldn’t rise to the threshold of negligence required to seek punitive damages. They were negligent and are liable, but you’ll only be able to seek compensatory damages.
When Can You Collect Punitive Damages?
So that leads us to the question of when can you collect punitive damages in a car accident case? As we mentioned above, the liable party must have acted with extreme disregard for the safety of others, and these actions must result in significant injuries. Actions that could lead to the possibility of punitive damage collection include:
Driving Under The Influence – It is well known that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal. If you choose to willingly ignore these risks by getting behind the wheel and causing an accident, the court may determine that the victims can collect punitive damages for your reckless behavior.
Knowingly Disregarding Traffic Laws – This is a little harder to prove in some circumstances, but if you can prove that the other party knowingly and willfully ignored traffic laws that contributed to an accident with injuries, punitive damages may be on the table. For example, if two parties are street racing and running stop signs and red lights, punitive damages could be assessed if injuries or death occurs.
Fleeing The Scene – If you are involved in an accident, you have a duty to stop at the scene and talk with the other parties or the authorities. However, if you compound your mistake by trying to flee, you can be liable for punitive damages, especially if the other party is worse off because you didn’t render aid or call for assistance.
Knowingly Failing To Maintain A Safe Vehicle – Drivers have a duty to maintain their vehicles so they don’t pose an added risk to others on the road. If you cause an accident because your brake lights were broken, that is likely just ordinary negligence. However, if you were warned by police about your faulty brake lights and failed to fix them in a reasonable amount of time, punitive damages may be on the line if they contributed to the accident.
These are just a few of the ways you may be eligible to collect punitive damages after a car accident, but consult with a lawyer if you have suspicions that the other driver’s actions rose above that of ordinary negligence. Don’t be financially burdened by someone else’s reckless actions, get the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact Hey Workers today.