In a court of law punitive damages may be awarded to an accident victim. The victim can win that award if the injury has resulted from performance of a certain type of behavior by another person. The damaging behavior must have been so terrible that it could be described as evil or inconceivable.
What purpose is served by awarding such damages?
Although often described as financial reimbursement for an injured victim, the money awarded to that same victim is really a means for punishing the person that performed the offensive behavior. Ideally, the monetary award, which must be paid by the defendant, will decrease the chances that the same person will commit a second offense, one that is equally egregious.
How the amount of money that will be awarded gets determined
Two aspects of the accident get considered, when the judge must determine the amount of money that will be awarded. One of those aspects concerns the nature of the victim’s injury. Is it a serious injury? Judges always make note of the severity of each of the victim’s injuries. The other aspect relates to the behavior demonstrated by the defendant. How would it rank on an imaginary scale, one that measured the egregious nature of a given action? Does it deserve to be called evil or inconceivable?
The judge can also look to see what has been awarded in similar cases. After studying such information the judge’s considered determination might be strengthened or weakened. Thus, the results from previous lawsuits might act to shape the judge’s final decision.
How does punitive damage differ from compensatory damage?
Punitive damages get awarded to a plaintiff when a defendant has been willing to ignore the level of respect and care that society feels to be owed to any one individual. Compensatory awards cover the cost of expenses. Those expenses could include medical bills, transportation costs, the cost of medications and medical devices, loss of property and missed income.
Those same awards (compensatory damages) could also be used to reimburse a defendant for money spent on counseling. That could be necessary if the injured victim (the defendant) felt especially anxious or suffered from diminished self-esteem. Suppose, for example, that the victim suffered an internal injury. If it was not readily apparent, others might doubt and even scoff at the victim’s claim, one based on the right to just compensation.
That same victim might seek compensation for pain and suffering. What special problems would fall under the category of “pain and suffering”? Those would include all the activities that the defendant/victim could no longer enjoy. For example, the injury might have put an end to the defendant’s ability to enjoy a certain hobby or a specific recreational activity. In addition, it might have put a terrible strain on the defendant’s relationship with friends and family members. That strain could be viewed as a type of mental suffering and your injury lawyer in Huntsville will vouch for it.