Punitive damages are a type of financial compensation paid out to a person in a manner specifically designed to punish the person guilty of wrongdoing. In a personal injury setting, these damages would only be paid out in cases in which the defendant was clearly grossly negligent or malicious, or engaged in behavior that was especially reprehensible.
Other types of damages are meant to financially compensate a person who suffered an injury for their losses, including legal bills, medical bills, future rehabilitation, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are simply extra money for the plaintiff that the defendant must pay as punishment for his or her conduct.
While punitive damages are available in some personal injury cases, they are quite rare in these types of lawsuits, and not every state will allow for them to be awarded.
Here are just a few examples of scenarios in which a judge may award punitive damages:
- A drunk driver with an extremely high blood alcohol content causing severe injuries or fatalities
- An extremely aggressive or reckless driver causing injuries or fatalities, usually with particularly egregious driving behaviors such as drag racing or road rage
- Using a vehicle as a weapon with intent to kill or injure another person
Punitive damages will typically only be awarded in cases in which the defendant knew or should have known the conduct would cause damage to another person’s property or threaten their life.
Again, punitive damages are very uncommon in accident cases, but they are occasionally awarded. To learn more about the types of compensation you can seek in a claim, meet with a dedicated Bradenton auto accident attorney at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.