When a person has been injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, the compensation they receive is most likely to the form of economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are intended to reimburse the victim for property damage, medical bills and other items with a clear dollar amount, while noneconomic damages account for the victim’s pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other issues that are a bit harder to quantify.
Occasionally we have clients who ask whether punitive damages are ever granted in auto accident cases. These are damages that are awarded to the victim specifically to punish the liable party. In injury cases, punitive damages are only awarded in the case of particularly egregious or intentional conduct.
While punitive damages are quite uncommon in auto accident cases, there are some circumstances in which they may be awarded. Some examples of these scenarios may include:
- A person driving particularly recklessly or aggressively, such as drag racing or driving with heightened road rage
- A person who caused an injury or death while driving heavily under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- A person intentionally assaulting or killing another person while using their vehicle as a weapon
For punitive damages to be awarded, the alleged wrongdoer must have known (or should have known) that his or her behavior would be a significant danger to the victim’s life or property, and then proceeded with the action anyway. This element simply isn’t present in the vast majority of auto accident cases, but that doesn’t mean it will never occur.
If you’re interested in learning more about the types of damages you could potentially recover in your auto accident claim, contact an experienced Sarasota, FL personal injury lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.