But there are cases in which compensatory damages don't go far enough. When the negligence of others is serious enough that we need to send an especially strong message, we will ask the court to award punitive damages.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are financial payments awarded to the plaintiff (that is, the injured person) from the defendant (the person responsible for the injury), just like compensatory damages. However, instead of being intended to reimburse the victim for specific losses, these damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly reckless, grossly negligent or intentional acts. They are also known as exemplary damages in some jurisdictions.
Some types of cases that may lead to punitive damages include:
- Truck accidents. Pajcic & Pajcic has handled many cases involving trucking companies that committed grossly negligent acts. For example, if the trucking company knew that a truck's brakes or engine needed to be repaired, but did not do so, it made a conscious decision to disregard safety. Likewise, if a trucking company fabricates a background check instead of doing its due diligence to hire safe and qualified operators, punitive damages may be awarded - the trucking company in this example clearly knew that it was doing wrong and fabricated documents to cover up its negligent actions.
- Injuries involving alcohol. Punitive damages are often awarded for injuries caused by drunk or drugged drivers, as driving under the influence is considered an act of gross negligence.
- Patterns of negligence. If a business has repeatedly committed similar acts of negligence, such as serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons or failing to provide adequate security on its premises, punitive damages may be awarded. The court's rationale here is that the business may have decided it is cheaper to pay for any injuries sustained than to actually fix the problem, and punitive damages provide an additional deterrent effect.
Our personal injury attorneys have the legal experience to understand when punitive damages may be in order - and we have the resources and litigation skills needed to effectively advocate for these damages for our clients.
How punitive damages can benefit the victim
Even though punitive damages are not directly intended to compensate the victim for his or her injuries, they can play an important role in terms of getting fair compensation. That's because when punitive damages are awarded, insurance policy limits may not apply and caps on damages can be overcome. Likewise, certain entities may lose their immunities to litigation when they commit acts worthy of punitive damages. Perhaps most importantly, an award of punitive damages sends a strong, clear message that you were wronged - and for many people, that is an important step toward closure.
If you have any reason to suspect you were hurt due to malicious or grossly negligent acts, you absolutely need to contact us right away. Don't allow yourself to be victimized twice. Get an experienced attorney on your side who can demand that the person or company that injured you be held accountable.
The sooner you call and meet with us for a free consultation, the sooner we can take action to protect your legal rights. We're dedicated to helping those who have been hurt get fair compensation and closure. Call 904-358-8881 today.