Punitive damages are assigned by a judge or jury to punish a defendant for especially egregious or heinous actions. Punitive damages are typically difficult to recover, but they may be useful as a deterrent to future negligent or reckless behavior by making the defendant an example.
Generally, punitive damages are available if a plaintiff and their attorney are able to prove at trial that the defendant acted with intentional malice. The other way to establish eligibility for punitive damages is by showing that the action of the other driver amounted to the willful and wanton disregard of their rights. You may be able to recover punitive damages in your Charlottesville car accident case by working with an experienced auto wreck attorney who is familiar with handling such cases.
The most common punitive damages that become available in a Charlottesville personal injury case or a car accident case are drunk drivers. Under Virginia law, a plaintiff could show that the drunk driver acted willfully and wantonly, but they could also show that the driver was driving with 0.15 blood alcohol content at the time of the accident.
If the responsible driver was driving with 0.15 and punitive damages are available, the plaintiff’s punitive damage award will be capped at $350,000.00. In addition to the actions of the defendant driver to determine punitive damages, the jury can also determine what that person’s assets and wealth are in determining the amount to award punitive damages to punish the punitive driver. This could send a clear message to the larger community that drunk driving has financial consequences in addition to the injuries it caused.
It is not very common for juries to award punitive damages, partially because most cases where punitive damages might be applicable are settled before they get to court. Additionally, in many cases that involve punitive damages and are settled out of court, there will be a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement, preventing the case and the details from being made public.
The factors that will influence the award of punitive damages primarily regard how egregious the actions of the negligent driver are if the driver was being willful and wanton and made a decision to drive in a certain manner.
The type of injuries that are involved also impact punitive damage awards. If it is a minor injury, then the punitive damages may be minor. However, if the victim will be affected by the injury permanently or the injury requires significant surgery significant recovery time, the damages may be accordingly higher. If the accident resulted in death, the punitive damages will likely be much more significant.
One of the biggest ways that a Charlottesville car accident attorney could help you secure punitive damages is by aggressively negotiating with the insurance companies. If necessary, The Warren firm could stand by your side in court to get you the money you deserve and secure punitive damages in your Charlottesville car accident case to exact justice from the reckless driver. Call right away to schedule a consultation for your case.