Car accident claims can include two types of damages: Punitive and compensatory. It is important to understand the different options that your case may have for compensation, but also understand what sets these two types apart – and if your case will qualify for both. All personal injury claims include compensatory damages – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be a valid claim. But, not all car accident cases will include punitive damages. To answer why, you must first understand how these types of damages work and what cases they apply to.
Compensatory Damages in a Car Accident Claim
All car accident cases will include compensatory damages, but the amount of compensatory damages and the types of damages that you can claim will vary depending on the case. Compensatory damages are meant to financially compensate you and make you financially whole again – or to the condition you were prior to the accident.
Compensatory damages are divided into two categories: Economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are ones that are easily calculated based on receipts and bills that you have encountered since the accident. These include things like:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Medical supplies
- Property damage
Noneconomic damages cover things that are not as easily computed, but are still required in order to fully compensate you for your injuries. These can include things like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and even mental anguish.
Do Punitive Damages Apply to Car Accident Claims?
Punitive damages are not as common with car accident claims, but that is because punitive damages are used to punish the defendant for specific behaviors. The monetary value is not designed to financially compensate the victim. In order for a car accident case to qualify for punitive damages, intentional misconduct or gross negligence must be present. Some instances where your case could qualify include:
- Gross negligence by the other driver or manufacturer. When a car accident is caused by defective car parts, punitive damages could apply. Also, if the other driver was grossly negligent – and the accident could have easily been prevented – punitive damages may be awarded. For example, if a driver who causes a fatal accident was driving under the influence, this could be considered grossly negligent.
- Malicious actions by the other driver. If the other driver purposely caused the accident, his or her malicious and intentional acts could warrant punitive damages. This can include people who cause accidents during instances of road rage or aggressive driving.
There are limitations to punitive damages. While the amount is set for the jury and/or judge to decide, they still must be reasonable within the law.
See What Compensation Your Claim Qualifies For – Contact a Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may wonder what compensation you could receive for your accidents. To explore your options, contact the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today. We offer free consultations and can help discuss your options for compensation from the driver, manufacturer, or even the other party’s insurer. Schedule your appointment now by calling us, or ask a question online.