Punitive damages represent a form of legal remedy that can be awarded in certain types of lawsuits, including auto accident cases. In Pennsylvania, punitive damages may be sought in car accident lawsuits under specific circumstances.
What Are Punitive Damages?
This type of compensation, which is also called exemplary damages, is awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death claim in addition to compensatory damages in civil cases. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to compensate the victim for their losses, exemplary damages focus on punishing the defendant for their wrongful conduct. This type of damages is not meant to make the plaintiff whole again but rather to deter and penalize the defendant.
When Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, exemplary damages can only be awarded if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted with “outrageous indifference” to the safety of others. This standard is more difficult to meet than the one used for compensatory damages, which only requires proving negligence or fault on the defendant’s part.
Factors Considered When Awarding Extra Damages
If the plaintiff can establish that the defendant acted with outrageous indifference, the court will consider certain factors when determining if punitive awards are appropriate. These include:
- The nature and reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct
- The amount of harm caused by the defendant’s actions
- The financial resources of the defendant
- Any prior similar conduct by the defendant
- The potential deterrent effect of this type of award
Caps on Exemplary Damages in Pennsylvania
Punitive damage awards are generally a multiple of those awarded in a personal injury case, except in cases involving medical malpractice, which have a cap. However, this type of award is only made in extreme cases where the at-fault party committed an intentional act or exhibited reckless indifference, maliciousness or other similar acts. The defendant’s conduct plays a part in awarding this type of damages, and they are intended to punish the at-fault party and prevent future behavior of this type.
How Do Exemplary Damages Affect a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Punitive damages are not always awarded in car accident cases. They are typically reserved for situations where the defendant’s conduct was especially appalling, such as drunk or reckless driving. If these damages are awarded in an auto accident case, they will be in addition to any compensatory damages the plaintiff receives for their injuries.
The Role of a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident and believe that exemplary damages may be appropriate, it is crucial to seek the help of an experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyer. They can review your case, gather evidence, and determine if pursuing this additional award of damages is a viable option. An attorney will also fight for your rights and represent your best interests in court, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Travis Law Firm: Auto Accident Lawyers
Whether you have been injured in a car accident or need legal representation, Travis Law Firm can assist you in finding the compensation you deserve. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (814) 277-2222. We also offer an online form for your convenience. We will endeavor to obtain full compensation for you on your behalf.