Punitive damages may come into play in a Boca Raton injury case. If you suffer a Boca Raton crash due to the negligence of another driver, you are entitled to a wide range of damages. These include both economic and non-economic damages. A Boca Raton car accident lawyer can help you determine what types of damages are available for your particular claim.
Economic damages usually pertain to tangible losses such as medical costs, lost wages, and vehicle repair or replacement costs. Non-economic costs cover intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
In addition to these damages, it is also possible for you to recover punitive damages for your car accident claim. These damages are not available for most crash claims and are relevant only when a crash occurs under exceptional circumstances. Here is a look at what these damages are and when are you entitled to receive them.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Most damages that are available in a personal injury claim are compensatory in nature. In other words, you are essentially compensated for a loss you have suffered in the form of monetary damages.
However, these damages are different in that they are not compensatory. Instead, they are meant as a punishment for the person or party that committed the negligence resulting in your injury. The ultimate purpose of punitive damages is to deter the negligent party from committing the same type of negligence in the future.
When Are Punitive Damages Available?
Given the nature of this category of damages, they are not available in most car accidents when a person committed minor negligence or acted negligently without intending to do so. Punitive damages become available when you can show as a crash victim that the negligent party committed:
- Gross negligence: This is a greater degree of negligence where the negligent party is typically expected to know that the specific actions they perform could lead to harmful consequences.
- Recklessness: As the name suggests, reckless behavior is when a driver or negligent party acts in a manner that deviates from the standard duty of care.
- Deliberate Lack of Regard for Others: This is when it can be shown that an at-fault driver deliberately and willingly acted in a negligent manner.
There are many car crash situations where punitive damages can be sought against the at-fault driver. Many Florida court rulings have previously awarded punitive damages in crashes involving drunk drivers or drivers who were using the cell phone when the crash occurred.
Building upon this legal precedent, you can seek punitive damages if your crash was caused by a DUI or distracted driver. When it comes to DUI accidents, your chances of recovering punitive damages are improved if the DUI driver is indicted on a criminal charge.
Amount of Punitive Damages
Many states do not limit the maximum amount of punitive damages that can be sought in a personal injury claim. However, Florida does have a formula that is used to calculate the maximum punitive damages you can seek. Under Florida Statutes Section 768.73, you are entitled to punitive damages to the tune of:
- A sum of $500,000
- Three times the amount of the other damages you received in the car crash claim
The limit for your damages is set by the greater of the two calculations listed above. For instance, if the rest of your damages are $100,000, the formula sets the maximum at $300,000 for punitive damages. However, you can seek up to $500,000 in damages.
On the other hand, if your other damages are $300,000, the formula sets the maximum at $900,000. In such a case, you can seek up to $900,000 in punitive damages.
The actual amount of damages you may get in a Boca Raton car crash depends on:
- The severity of the injuries you suffered in the accident
- The degree of recklessness or negligence involved on the part of the defendant
- The previous conduct, character, and reputation of the defendant
All of these factors play a role in the amount that a court ultimately awards in lieu of punitive damages. It is typically a good idea to consult an experienced lawyer when you intend to file for such damages.
How Can a Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have been hurt in a Boca Raton crash caused by the wanton or reckless conduct of an at-fault driver, we can help you. Here at Englander Peebles, our lawyers work with you to seek both compensatory and punitive damages from the at-fault driver. Get in touch today to discuss your car crash claim in a free consultation.