In most car accident claims, the at-fault driver’s actions do not justify punitive damages. However, in car accidents where the at-fault driver’s behavior is deemed to be done with actual malice, then punitive damages can be recovered. Here, automobile accident attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein provides an overview of when you may be entitled to collect punitive damages after a car accident.
Most Car Accident Cases Result in Compensatory Damage
Compensatory damages are divided into two categories: economic damages, or special damages, and non-economic damages. Special damages can be calculated exactly and include financial losses like lost wages or medical bills. Non-economic damages are not directly measurable, as they relate to subjective damages such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. Most car accident cases result in the plaintiff collecting some form of compensatory damage, rather than punitive, as most automobile collisions are a result of an accident and not due to malicious conduct on the defendant’s side.
Punitive Damages May Be Collected As a Result of Actual Malice
In automobile accident cases where the defendant displays a conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, evil or wrongful motive, intent to injure, ill will or fraud, the victim(s) may be entitled to collect punitive damages. Punitive damages can be collected as a result of a personal injury where the defendant displayed malicious violent or negligent behavior that resulted in the plaintiff’s personal injury. Whereas compensatory damages are intended to help the plaintiff to recover financially from the accident, punitive damages are put in place as punishment for the defendant for their wrongful actions. Due to the nature of punitive damages, they are often exceedingly high as to reprimand the defendant and warn others not to attempt the same behavior.
Actions that could result in punitive automobile accident charges are usually intentional acts and most intentional acts are not covered by liability insurance policies. There are cases where a wealthy individual commits a malicious act and they can be held responsible regardless of insurance coverage.
Discuss Your Options With a Maryland Automobile Accident Attorney
While many states do not offer punitive damages for automobile accidents, Maryland law allows the possibility of punitive damages in the instance that the at-fault driver acted in a malicious manner. Maryland automobile accident attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein has decades of experience representing victims of automobile accidents and can help determine if your case may be eligible for compensatory or punitive damages. If you or a loved one has been in an automobile accident as a result of egregious behavior, do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Douglas C. Lauenstein today.