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Punitive Damages in Car Accident Cases

Posted on January 15, 2018

Punitive Damages in Car Accident Cases

When you are involved in an auto accident, you have the option to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. The aim of compensation, typically, is to make the driver “whole”—making up for vehicle replacement cost, for medical expenses, for lost wages as a result of the accident, etc.

But sometimes, the damages pursued are not compensatory, but punitive. Punitive damages aren’t meant to make the driver whole, or to reimburse the driver for losses suffered. Instead, they are intended to punish the at-fault driver.

But when can you seek punitive damages—and is it ever a good idea to do so? Here are some thoughts from the car accident lawyers at I Accident Lawyer.

What Are You Entitled to in a Car Accident?

Again, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for any injuries or losses suffered. They are designed as punishment. As such, there are some restrictions on when you can seek punitive damages. According to our car accident lawyers, punitive damages are generally pursued when the at-fault driver’s behavior is truly reckless and egregious, or when the at-fault driver displays poor character in some way.

Where Can You Seek Punitive Damages?

In some states, punitive damages aren’t even an option—no matter how bad the at-fault driver’s behavior may be. In states that do not allow for punitive damages, the plaintiff can only seek compensatory damages.

In states that do allow you to seek punitive damages, you’ll need to make the case that the at-fault driver displayed a certain type of behavior; in most states, this character is defined as “gross negligence, recklessness, and willful or wanton behavior.”

When Can You Seek Punitive Damages?

But what does this mean, exactly? Again, it can vary from one state to the next—and your best bet is to talk directly with your car accident lawyer to determine whether the behavior you encountered qualifies.

Generally speaking, grossly negligent and reckless behavior occur when the driver knows he or she could have hurt someone, and persisted nonetheless. Willful and wanton behavior, which is even worse, involves drivers who intentionally cause dangerous and harmful situations.

Ultimately, the decision of what does or does not constitute this sort of behavior can be fuzzy—for example, drunk driving can sometimes qualify, but it doesn’t always. It depends on the specifics of the case, on the legal arguments presented, and on the guidelines in place within the state in question.

Seeking Punitive Damages

If you have been involved in a car accident and feel as though you have a strong case to seek punitive damages, reach out to a car accident lawyer today—regardless of the specifics of the case, whether or not you were declared to be at fault, etc.

Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?

If the accident wasn’t your fault, that leaves the door open to possibly seek punitive damages—but even if you just pursue compensatory damages, it’s vital to consult with a car accident attorney. Car accident lawyer fees are usually based on winning the case, so don’t worry about not being able to pay up front; instead, make sure you have the help you need to fight for just compensation.

Should I Get an Attorney After a Car Accident with No Injury?

Again, punitive damages and compensatory damages can both be sought even if you weren’t injured; for example, you can seek damages for any vehicle repair or replacement fees, for vehicle rental charges, and for other out of pocket expenses. For an auto accident lawyer, no injury cases can still provide some opportunities to fight for justice.

Where Can I Find a Car Accident Attorney Near Me?

If you’re wondering when to get an attorney for a car accident, the short answer is: As quickly as possible following the accident. The sooner you act, the better it is for your case. Make sure you get the medical assistance you need, but after that, make it a top priority to find a good attorney.

This is true whether you’re seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both. The attorneys at I Accident Lawyer are here to help. We work exclusively with those who have been in car accidents, and we approach our clients with both knowledge and passion. We can help you determine whether or not to proceed with a punitive case, and we can also fight that case for you.

Learn more by reaching out to the car accident lawyers at I Accident Lawyer today.

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