If another driver’s negligence leaves you injured, you can seek compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional damages you suffer as a result of that negligence. These are known as compensatory damages because they compensate you for the losses you’ve incurred. In highly specific situations, however, you may also be able to acquire punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault driver for his or her egregious negligence (or worse). If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, don’t wait to consult with an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney.
Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages
To better understand punitive damages, it’s important to understand their distinction from compensatory damages.
You may hear compensatory damages referred to as actual damages because they relate to the actual damages – or losses – you’ve suffered, including:
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Your medical expenses (both current and ongoing)
- Your lost wages, including any loss of earning potential
- Your physical and emotional pain and suffering
All of these – other than your pain and suffering – can easily be assigned a value (the price associated with addressing them). Further, your pain and suffering can be calculated in accordance with the seriousness of the accident in question, the seriousness of the injuries you sustain, and the effects these have on you and your life. Your compensatory damages will be predicated on your ability to demonstrate the losses you’ve suffered as a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence.
A higher level of proof is required to establish that you are entitled to punitive damages, and this is that not only was the at-fault driver’s conduct negligent but also reckless or otherwise egregious. Further, you’ll need to do so with what is known as clear and convincing evidence. In other words, it needs to be clear that the other driver’s behavior exceeded mere negligence. Examples include:
- If you were injured by an obviously drunk driver
- If you were injured by a motorist who was in the grip of road rage
In order to award punitive damages in a Missouri car accident claim, the jury must establish that the defendant (the driver whom you accuse of causing you to be injured) demonstrated a deliberate and flagrant disregard for your safety and well-being. The court can allow the jury to take the defendant’s net worth into consideration when assigning punitive damages. Not only are punitive damages intended to punish the at-fault party but also to deter others from engaging in similarly egregious practices.
It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Kansas City Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured by a motorist who made it clear that he or she had no interest in your safe passage, it makes a terrible situation that much more difficult, and punitive damages may be an option. The formidable Kansas City car accident attorneys at Krause & Kinsman Law Firm have a wealth of experience guiding complicated cases involving punitive damages toward beneficial resolutions, and we’re committed to helping you too. To learn more, please do not wait to contact us online or call us at 816-307-2763 today.
Is there a cap on the punitive damages I can receive?
While there used to be a cap on punitive damages in Missouri, this is no longer the case.
How do I know if my case will lead to punitive damages?
The fact is that most car accident cases do not lead to punitive damages, and the determination is made on a strictly case-by-case basis. Your experienced car accident attorney, however, will have a good feel for whether or not punitive damages will apply in your case.
How can I maximize my compensation?
The surest way to protect your claim and to maximize your compensation in the process includes the following:
- Seeking medical attention as soon after the accident as possible and carefully following your doctor’s instructions and advice
- Working closely with a dedicated car accident attorney
- Staying mum on the subject of the accident until after your case has been resolved (no need to provide the insurance company with any additional ammunition)