Accident injury claims are usually restricted in value to the amount of insurance maintained by a primarily negligent driver, but in some instances, there can be extensive insurance protection and even personal assets to attach when total damages exceed coverage. Passengers are typically not assessed for comparative negligence, so whole financial damages can be available, but drivers will still be evaluated for negligence in the accident reconstruction process. Here are two particular scenarios that can justify punitive damages.
Drunk driver collisions
The most common situation where punitive damages could be available is in a crash with a drunk driver. This is especially true in wrongful death filings. According to CDC reports regarding fatal motor vehicle accidents, someone dies in a car crash with an impaired driver every 50 minutes. Punitive damages are generally allowed in cases involving gross negligence on the part of the negligent driver, and impaired driving can easily fall into this category.
Truck drivers are required by law to carry extended liability protection just in case they cause a very serious collision. While the cases can be highly contested, the potential for punitive damages could exist when there is extensive documentation to suggest that the driver was operating outside of highway rules and regulations. In addition, shipping companies can be pursued for damages in some cases. Even though punitive awards may not be available, additional extended vicarious damages could be awarded.
Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys will typically assess the potential for punitive damages resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Pennsylvania uses modified comparative negligence law with a 51% bar for damages filed by drivers, and the level of personal negligence can make a significant difference in the final case outcome. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you’ll want an experienced attorney to help you understand the compensation you may be eligible for.