Do you know when an automobile accident victim may be awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages? Punitive damages are often misunderstood. In this article accident attorney, Jeffrey Meldon, explains what they are, who pays, and when they may come into play in a car crash.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages may be recovered in a Florida auto accident case, if the defendant’s negligent conduct is especially offensive and reckless. Punitive damages, also known as ‘exemplary damages,’ are intended to punish and deter the wrongdoer’s offensive behavior. These damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages, like lost wages and medical bills.
What does a Court Consider?
A court or jury looks at the nature and level of the defendant’s misconduct when awarding exemplary damages, among other factors. Is the defendant’s behavior that caused the personal injury sufficiently offensive and reckless?
What Auto Accidents may receive Punitive Damages?
An automobile accident victim may be awarded punitive damages, if the defendant:
- is or may be charged with Manslaughter for causing a death;
- behaves in a wanton, reckless, reprehensible, and intentional way;
- drives at an extremely reckless speed that caused a collision;
- fails to stop at the scene of the accident, combined with other reckless behavior;
- is voluntarily intoxicated (at or above .08 BAC) and causes an accident;
- is engaged in criminal behavior and causes a car accident;
- knowingly fails to maintain a safe car that caused the accident, ie., brakes.
Does my Car Insurance Policy Cover Punitive Damages?
Probably not. While only the terms of your insurance policy will tell whether your car insurance covers punitive damages, they will likely be paid ‘out of pocket.’ (Florida Jurisprudence, November 2010, 17 Fla. Jur. 2d Damages § 129.)
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We at Meldon Law strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of an accident or in the recovery from one.
We are experienced personal injury attorneys, trial lawyers, negotiators, litigators, paralegals, and staff that have been proudly working to get accident victims the justice they deserve for over 40 years in Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Inverness, and the rest of North Central Florida and North Florida. Accidents involving a car crash, truck wreck, and motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and criminal defense are all included in our practice.
Based on Jeffrey Meldon’s, founder of Meldon Law, over 40 years of helping accident victims get justice and a fair shake from the insurance companies, he has written the consumer guide book, Seven Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case. You can request your free, no obligation copy right now, or contact our office for your complimentary copy sent to you today.
Contact Meldon Law at (800) 373-8000 or (352) 373-8000 immediately if you have been involved in a serious auto, truck, or motorcycle accident. We are in your community, have the experience and resources required to work towards obtaining a fair settlement for you – we are here to help you.