Does Your Personal Injury Case Merit Punitive Damages?

Posted on: 12 October 2021

It can be devastating to be involved in an accident. When someone else caused that accident, though, you may be entitled to damages. In certain rare cases, the harm done to you was not exactly accidental in nature and you might be entitled to quite a bit more in compensation as a result. To find out more about a particular type of personal injury known as negligence, read below.

Accidental Harm and Negligence: Know the Difference

Many accidents are caused by simple human carelessness. That doesn't lessen the impact on victims, though, even if the person doing you harm felt remorse and regret. You might consider negligence to be an accident caused by more than just carelessness. Often, negligence is caused by someone breaking a law, a willful disregard of the safety of others, or knowingly placing someone in harm's way. For example, a drowning in a condominium pool while on vacation might be a tragic accident. However, certain details could turn that accident into negligence if:

  • The condominium advertised having a lifeguard but no one was on duty at the time of the incident.
  • The condominium failed to install or maintain a safety gate and a child gained access to the pool.
  • The lifeguard was on duty but allowed too many people in the pool at one time and did not attend to the swimmer who drowned.

Regular Damages and Punitive Damages

When you are harmed, regardless of whether it was accidental or negligence, you are entitled to be paid for certain damages. In an ordinary personal injury case, damages can include things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. When the case rises to the status of negligence, however, punitive damages may be possible.

What To Know About Punitive Damages

A lawsuit can be prepared to address the above losses but lawsuits don't contain anything about punitive damages. It is the judge and jury that adds punitive damages when they hand down their verdict. Cases in which punitive damages are appropriate may be defined by certain factors. Some of those are:

  • Laws were broken. For example, the driver that hit you was also intoxicated.
  • An example needs to be made of the incident so publicity is part of the equation. Taking the above example, the drunk driver that hit you drove for a major package delivery company.
  • More punishment is called for because the level of harm done exceeds what the plaintiff asked for in monetary compensation.

To find out more about punitive and other types of damages, speak to a personal injury lawyer.