What Are the Differences Between Economic and Punitive Damages in a Car Accident Case?
Most people understand that if you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you can potentially recover compensation for your personal injury. How much money you can get depends on many issues. Some of them include the state where the accident happened, what laws that cover the accident, the extent and seriousness of the injuries, the lost out-of-pocket expense and money, and the amount of insurance policies that are available to the injured person.
The two main types of damages that you see in most car and truck accident cases are economic damages and pain and suffering damages. Another category of damages that is not often seen in car accident cases is punitive damages. This type of damage is rarer because it requires the at-fault driver to be more than merely negligent in their driving actions.
One category of damages or money compensation that you can receive involves economic damages. Economic damages are those losses that an injured person suffers such as lost income or unpaid medical bills. For example, suppose you were injured in a car accident because of someone else driving recklessly, not paying attention, and running a stop sign. Your injuries caused in the accident were serious enough to keep you out of work for several months. Because you were not working, you lost wages. Recovering those lost wages against the other driver’s insurance company would be considered economic damages. Also, assume you have unpaid medical bills from the accident that were not covered by some other type of insurance. Those bills would also be part of the case and paid by the defendant’s insurance company.
Punitive damages are designed not to compensate the injured person because of injuries and losses but are supposed to punish the at-fault party for their actions. The punishment is to make them pay money, extra money above and beyond the losses of the injured person, to be paid to the injured person. The theory of punitive damages is to deter or change the future behavior of the at-fault driver.
However, the standard of proving the awarding of punitive damages is much more difficult than economic damages and pain and suffering damages. With those categories, you only have to prove that the at-fault driver was merely negligent. But with punitive damages, you must prove that the at-fault driver acted with willfulness, wantonness, and malice in their actions. For punitive damages, the defendant has to have acted either intentionally in attempting to harm the plaintiff or acted with obvious disregard for others’ safety. One way to determine if punitive damages is appropriate in a particular case is to ask whether the defendant’s actions would be considered outrageous.
The most common type of car and truck accident cases in which you see punitive damages is when the at-fault driver was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Obviously, if someone is drunk and gets behind the wheel, their actions are obviously outrageous and wanton toward other people on the roads.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Seriously Injured in Car Accidents
Having an experienced lawyer fighting for your rights to be compensated for serious car accident injuries significantly increases your chances to get the full damages allowed by law. The Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King will investigate the cause of your accident, keep you informed, and fight to get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.