Punitive damages after a car accident are exceedingly higher than compensatory ones because they are intended to discourage any similar behavior.
Most car accidents result from the negligent behavior of drivers, pedestrians, or other participants in traffic. The most common car accident claims are made to cover the damage inflicted on a person or property, and mandatory auto policies are meant to provide the safety net if such costs are needed since they are usually too high to afford to pay from one’s pocket.
As mentioned, this system is, in most cases, designed to compensate for someone’s damage due to another’s negligence. But there is another type of compensation one can receive in a car accident claim under some circumstances: punitive damages.
Punitive Damages Versus Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages after a car accident caused by someone’s negligence are generally divided into two types:
- Economic damages: property damage, damage to objects in the car or that you had on yourself, private property; personal injuries, hospitalization, treatment, recovery, therapy, etc.; lost wages, lost opportunities to gain income.
- Non-economic damages: in the legal domain, you will hear about them as “pain and suffering” – they represent the lowering of the quality of life due to the accident, physical pain, emotional distress, damaged relationships, limited opportunities, etc.
If compensatory damages are defined by damages inflicted by accident, punitive damages are caused by malicious action. The difference between the two is simple: if someone has negligent conduct and causes an accident, the damages are compensatory; if they intentionally cause a collision or try to hurt another, the damages may be punitive.
Punitive Damages in a Car Accident
Punitive damages are exceedingly higher than compensatory ones because they are intended to discourage any similar behavior. If it’s proven that someone had the intent to injure, fraud, or kill another person, they will generally be held liable for punitive damages. Because most insurance companies don’t cover actions done with intention, punitive damages are often collected from the at-fault driver’s own pocket.
Punitive damages may also apply if the driver who caused the accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even if the accident itself was not provoked intentionally but happened due to negligence, the fact that the driver went behind the wheel while under the influence may be seen as a malicious choice and punished through punitive damages.
Are You the Victim of a Car Collision Caused Intentionally?
If your situation seems to qualify for punitive damages, we strongly recommend speaking with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer about your case. They can help you understand what evidence is necessary to prove the malicious intent and help get you the compensation you are legally entitled to.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!