In a personal injury case, you will usually not receive punitive damages because the courts will only award them when it can be proven that the defendant was willfully negligent or reckless. However, if you believe that this is the case, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer about whether you should fight for them.
Why Punitive Damages
You may want to be awarded punitive damages because you want to hold the defendant to account. If the defendant is simply required to pay compensatory damages, they might see these damages as simply the "cost of doing business."
Generally, you should maximize your settlement in any way possible because it can be difficult to predict how much your injuries might cost you. How fast your body is able to heal and the number of treatments you will need can be unpredictable. You might also overestimate the extent to where you can retrain and enter a new profession.
What Determines the Punitive Damages Award
Punitive damages are complex and controversial because there are strict rules regarding what can be awarded. Also, the defendant may decide to do everything they can to reduce their punitive damages. This means they will likely argue that the damages awarded are unfair or extreme.
What Is an Extreme Case
An extreme case of negligence might be when an instance where the defendant was deliberately trying to injure or kill you. For example, you might have been injured by a commercial truck that was driven by a driver who has a history of road rage. The employer might have been aware of this but chose to hire the driver anyway.
While experiencing road rage, the commercial truck driver might have rammed into your vehicle. Because of the size and weight of commercial trucks, accidents caused by these types of behaviors can be very severe. If the driver was employed by a commercial trucking company, the company might be vicariously liable and may be forced to pay for punitive damages.
Why Punitive Damages Must Be Exemplary
Punitive damages are meant to be exemplary. This means that they are meant to be so large that they act as a deterrent. Therefore, the punitive damages you are awarded can be several times the total value of your compensatory damages. But to be awarded these damages, you'll need a personal injury lawyer who will make a compelling case to the judge.
Contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.