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What Are Punitive Damages? 

 Posted on December 01, 2021 in Personal Injury

shutterstock_368589437-min.jpgWhen car accidents or truck accidents are caused by ordinary carelessness, it is usually seen as enough for the at-fault party to compensate the victim for any harm done. This usually includes paying for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs directly related to the accident. However, sometimes an at-fault party’s conduct goes above and beyond mere negligence. In specific cases where a driver’s behavior was more egregious, punitive damages may be awarded for the purpose of punishing the defendant. This area of the law can be complicated, so you will need an attorney to assess the facts and circumstances of your accident to determine whether punitive damages may be appropriate. 

What is the Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages? 

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate injured plaintiffs for the damage done to them in the accident. Even if it was simply a careless mistake, compensatory damages are awarded so that the defendant, rather than the plaintiff, will cover the costs associated with the crash. Punitive damages are used to punish the defendant for hurting someone through a complete disregard for others’ safety. 

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded? 

Punitive damages are not awarded in every negligence case. They are reserved for special circumstances where the defendant was acting with reckless indifference for the safety of others or malice. This may include things like driving an 18-wheeler while drunk or street racing at high speeds. The driver’s behavior when he caused the crash must reveal a complete lack of care for the safety of everyone else on the road. 

Typical, everyday forms of carelessness like glancing down to read a text message or forgetting to signal usually will not rise to the level of reckless indifference needed to argue for punitive damages. While drivers are still liable for compensatory damages when they cause a crash through normal negligence, it is not usually seen as necessary to further punish the driver. 

Another time punitive damages can come into play during car accident litigation is when the accident was caused by an unreasonably dangerous defective vehicle part. In certain cases, a manufacturer can be ordered to pay punitive damages if there was reckless indifference as to the safety of the vehicle component. However, this type of case requires careful assessment by a qualified attorney. 

Call an Illinois Car Accidents Attorney

If you have been injured by a recklessly indifferent driver, Issa Law, LLC may be able to recover damages for you. Our experienced Orland Park car accident lawyers will review the details of your case and fight for you to receive all appropriate compensation. Call us at 708-966-2408 to schedule a free consultation. 




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