Well I hope you have recovered from your Thanksgiving dinner.
What wrongful death car accident and personal injury attorney Bernard Tully wants to talk about in this blog is whether your personal injury case qualifies for receiving extra $$$ from a jury in the form of a punitive damage claim. What I mean is this: certain types of cases and actions by defendants are so outrageous and wrong that the law allows a jury to grant the victim of such outrageous acts extra $$ damages in the form of punitive damages.
Punitive damages allow the jury to basically send a message to the defendant that it must cease and desist from certain actions or suffer the $$ consequences of its actions.
Suppose for example the following: a trucking company requires (or at least encourages) its drivers to drive long hours on the road to make more $$ for the company. Their truck driver is driving more hours than is safe and he gets into an accident with you in your car on the highway. As a result of this you have to have back surgery from the force of the truck hitting you from behind. Maybe you’re laid up for several months in rehabilitation and miss some work because of the collision. What is your case worth?
Well if it is just based upon what your physical injuries are maybe a jury would give you $250,000 dollars for your pain and suffering.
BUT in a punitive damage claim the jury could in addition award to you a million dollars($1,000,000) for the outrageous conduct of the defendant trucking company. In that example your total recovery would not be $250,000 but would in fact be $1,250,000 because of the punitive damage claim.
The idea behind a punitive damage claim is an attempt to stop the defendant from doing something that society thinks is totally improper.
Another area where I see an awful lot of punitive damage claims are in dram shop cases. Dram shop cases often involve a bar that over serves a customer in order to make a profit. The customer then leaves the bar drunk, gets in his car and is in an accident with an innocent victim possibly causing the victims death. Again you can see the element of outrageous conduct that is the trigger for a punitive damage claim. Society wants to stop bars from over serving its visibly intoxicated customers just in order to make a profit.
As you can see not all cases qualify for a claim of punitive damages. For example if a driver is just not paying attention and hits another car from behind that would not support a punitive damage claim because there is no outrageous conduct involved. But if that driver is texting on her phone while she is driving hits and kills another person because of her texting that could qualify for a punitive damage claim. Why? Because that’s the kind of conduct that society wants to stop. It involves the defendant acting with reckless disregard for the rights of others.
You can call Pittsburgh wrongful death, car accident and slip and fall attorney Bernie Tully at any time for a FREE assessment regarding whether you have a punitive$$$ damage claim.
Well thats all for now.
Thanks for reading. Go Steelers!
Bernie the attorney.