Most personal injury cases come with a straightforward set of damages. You get coverage for economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. You get coverage for non-economic damages: pain and suffering.
Some cases add a third type of damage: punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for egregious behavior.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARE RARE
New York City law says that a plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages where “the wrongdoer’s actions amount to willful or wanton negligence, or recklessness, or where there is a conscious disregard of the rights of others or conduct so reckless as to amount to such disregard."
Thus, you can get punitive damages in cases where this wanton disregard has been displayed. For example:
- The driver was driving drunk, or under the influence of drugs.
- The driver was driving distracted; for example, texting while driving.
- The driver was a truck driver who was in violation of federal laws about fatigued driving.
- A trucking company failed to conduct routine maintenance on their trucks just to increase their profits, and put trucks on the road knowing those trucks could be unsafe.
- A trucking company employs an unsafe or dangerous driver by failing to background check or train that driver properly.
- Someone deliberately caused the crash.
Proving this level of recklessness or negligence isn’t always easy. It may be straightforward when a positive breathalyzer test exists but proof positive of drunk driving or other misconduct isn’t always available.
THE POSSIBILITY OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES COULD BE USED TO NEGOTIATE
92% of personal injury cases never go to trial. This is another reason why punitive damages are so rare.
Most companies don’t want to deal with the PR that comes from having punitive damages applied to them. Most individuals don’t like the feeling that comes with punitive damages, either.
Thus, we may try to point out that the possibility exists and then use that information to negotiate a higher pain and suffering award instead. Often this is the path that is most likely to be successful.
GET THE COMPENSATION YOU DESERVE
Regardless of whether your case comes with a potential for punitive damages, you can rest assured that the team at Jaroslawicz & Jaros, PLLC, is here to help you.
We’ve recovered over $1 billion for our clients. If you’ve been injured in a car accident case, don’t hesitate to take advantage of our 24-hour hotline to claim your free consultation today.