When someone sustains injuries in an accident, they can seek compensatory damages to make up for their economic losses and psychological trauma. In certain cases it is also possible to receive an additional award known as punitive damages. This is utilized only when the at-fault party was grossly negligent to the point of being reckless or purposeful. Although it is not common to receive punitive damages in a Cicero car accident, a dedicated attorney could confer with the plaintiff about whether these damages are recoverable in their case.
The primary type of award available in a civil case is compensatory damages, which can be economic and non-economic. Economic damages are calculated from medical bills and lost wages, while non-economic damages include pain and suffering as well as disability. These are meant to compensate an individual for what they have lost, physically and mentally.
Punitive damages serve a different purpose. They are awarded in cases where the conduct of the defendant was particularly egregious. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and to deter anyone in the future from engaging in the same type of misconduct.
In a car accident case, an attorney plays several important roles. First, they send a letter of representation to the insurance company. It is never advisable for an injured person to speak with the insurance adjuster directly. The attorney should handle all of those communications.
Next, an attorney could assist in investigating all potential sources of recovery. There may be additional insurance policies available, or other defendants who may be partially responsible for the damages. Among the sources of recovery to consider after a local auto collision is the possibility of punitive damages. If a lawyer believes those damages are possible, they might be able to collect evidence that proves the driver’s reckless negligence.
Most car accident cases do not involve punitive damages since they are the result of negligence, which usually involves someone driving unsafely. However, if the actions of the driver were extremely reckless, it could be an option. A drinking and driving accident or a drag racing crash, for example, will frequently result in a claim for punitive damages.
A judge will make the determination of whether punitive damages are justified, given the facts of the case. They will examine the conduct of the defendant and contemplate whether it rises to a level of willful wanton conduct.
In determining the proper amount to award for punitive damages, a jury takes into consideration different concepts. Generally speaking, there is a correlation to the amount of compensatory damages when awarding punitive damages. If the injuries are serious, and the compensatory damages are high, it will be more likely that a larger punitive damages award will be necessary.
The wealth of the defendant can have an impact. What might be considered a significant amount of money to a poor person might be insignificant to a wealthy person. If a large company is on the hook for an accident, such as through a hired car service or due to a defective product, even a punitive award of a million dollars might not be enough to send a message. In order to deter future conduct, the damages need to be large enough that a person or entity will be scared out of attempting it.
However, if the punitive damages after a car crash in Cicero are so out of proportion with the compensatory damages, a judge may reduce the amount awarded.
The goal of all personal injury cases is to make an adequate recovery for the client. If the conduct of the defendant rises to a certain level, then punitive damages may be applicable. A lawyer could be in the best position to determine whether to press for punitive damages.
Consult with a lawyer about whether the circumstances of your car accident in Cicero make you eligible for punitive damages.