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When a Car Accident Victim Can Get Punitive Damages

Posted on February 10, 2017 in Car Accidents

When a Car Accident Victim Can Get Punitive DamagesPeople who have been injured in car accidents usually want to know how much an insurance company will pay them or how big of an award a jury is likely to give. This is a natural question and one that a skilled auto accident attorney can give after the facts of your case a reviewed.

When people are thinking about damages, many wonder if punitive damages can be awarded. Accident victims are typically aware that punitive damages are often large sums that can greatly increase the amount of a damage award or settlement.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are rare, although they are appropriate in some circumstances. In a typical trial, an accident victim asks for compensatory damages. As the name suggests, compensatory means that the damages are awarded to compensate the victims.

Compensatory damages are made up of two categories: general and economic. Economic damages can be proven with hard numbers. For example, medical bills and lost wages are economic damages because the amount of those damages can be ascertained by looking at paperwork.

General damages are damages that the jury determines the amount. Pain and suffering is a common general damage.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the person at fault because the conduct that caused the accident is especially egregious. The legal description for the conduct that gives rise to punitive damages is “conduct . . . with evil motive or with a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and with a conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others.”

Driving Accidents and Punitive Damages

While any case could involve dangerous, willful and wanton reckless conduct, the most common cases where punitive damages are available are in car accidents where the person who caused the accident was drunk.

For example, in a recent Iowa case, a jury awarded the victim of an alcohol-related car accident $425,000 in punitive damages.

Contact a Will County Auto Accident Lawyer

If you have been in a car accident where the person who caused the accident was acting in an extremely dangerous way, you should have your case reviewed by a skilled accident attorney  

Before you accept a settlement from an insurance company, you should have an idea about the value of your case. A car accident attorney can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, which often leads to a greater settlement amount. An insurer will settle for more if it knows you have an attorney who will bring the case to trial if needed.

Contact the experienced Plainfield, IL car accident attorneys at Flaherty Law, LLC by calling 815-577-7500. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.


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