Punitive Damages: What Are They and Can I Recover Them in My Case?

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At many of my initial consultations with personal injury clients, I am asked about Punitive Damages and whether Punitive Damages can be recovered in my client’s motor vehicle accident case.

In the majority of automobile accident cases, the damages recovered by the Plaintiff are for the Plaintiff’s property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A Plaintiff’s damages for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages are known as Actual Damages or Special Damages. A Plaintiff’s award or recovery for pain and suffering is known as General Damages. However, depending on the facts surrounding how the car accident occurred, a Plaintiff may also be able to recover Punitive Damages.

Generally speaking, Punitive Damages are damages that can be awarded in addition to Actual Damages when the Defendant acted with recklessness or malice in causing injury to the Plaintiff see here for North Carolina Statutes concerning Punitive Damages). In the context of a motor vehicle accident case, a Plaintiff may recover Punitive Damages from the Defendant when the Defendant engaged in Gross Negligence when the car accident occurred.

In North Carolina, a common example of Gross Negligence in a car accident case is when the at-fault driver was intoxicated or Driving While Impaired at the time the car accident occurred. Additionally, you may be able to recover Punitive Damages if the driver who was negligent in causing the motor vehicle accident did so while driving at an excessive or extreme rate of speed and in an extremely reckless manner.

Accordingly, if the at-fault driver was Grossly Negligent in causing an automobile accident, the Plaintiff or non-at-fault driver should demand to be compensated for Punitive Damages in addition to her property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering in her personal injury case.

If you have any questions about whether you are entitled to Punitive Damages in your car accident case, please feel free to call our Durham personal injury lawyer for a free consultation or phone call at (888) 820-5885 or complete our contact form on this page.