Could I receive punitive damages in my car accident case?
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person in New Mexico, you may be eligible to receive damages. When most of us think of damages in a personal injury case, we think of damages that will make us whole again. After all, an injury will leave an accident victim out the expense of medical bills and lost time at work. Damages that will restore you to the position you were in financially prior to the accident are known as compensatory damages. These damages will be awarded in any viable personal injury case. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are entirely unique.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the person who injured you. These damages are not awarded in every case; rather, in the state of New Mexico, they will only be awarded when the defendant’s actions were reckless or intentional. Our Rio Rancho, New Mexico personal injury lawyers discuss the nature and award of punitive damages below.
Evaluating the Defendant’s Actions
Punitive damages are awarded on a relatively rare basis because they require a high burden of proof to demonstrate the defendant’s actions were reckless or intentional. The court will look to the circumstances surrounding the incident or accident that gave rise to your injuries, specifically evaluating the defendant’s intent or degree of recklessness. Any accident can, in theory, give rise to an award of punitive damages, including a car accident, slip and fall, premises liability case, and the like.
While an ordinary car accident case is unlikely to result in punitive damages, a case with exceptional circumstances might. For example, if the defendant was highly intoxicated at the time of the accident, this could be considered extreme recklessness. Similarly, if the maker of a certain prescription drug knowingly put an unsafe drug on the market and it killed someone, this could constitute recklessness to the extent that punitive damages may be awarded.
In awarding punitive damages, a jury should keep the damages in proportion to the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct. If an award is deemed too high, it could be reversed. A court could look to whether the defendant’s conduct was repeated, whether it endangered the safety of others, the nature of the harm inflicted, and much more. For assistance in pursuing punitive damages from the defendant who harmed you, consult with a personal injury lawyer right away.
Posted in: Personal Injury