After a traffic wreck caused by someone’s negligence, an injured party can typically pursue compensation for two types of damages. Most car accident claims include economic damages for compensable losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering.
However, there is a third type of compensation available in specific cases. Damages that are punitive are meant to punish the at-fault party for reckless or intentionally wanton misconduct. If you believe your traffic collision injuries stemmed from malicious or heinous behavior, consult a seasoned attorney on punitive damages for Elgin car accidents. The legal team at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer could advise you on seeking all available types of compensation for your traffic accident.
Driver Behavior that Warrants Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are reserved for willful wanton misconduct or reckless behavior by someone who understands the risk and then disregards it. These types of damages are often seen in DUI collision cases, as it is common knowledge that drunk driving puts everyone on the road in danger.
However, a skilled attorney must prove an Elgin driver’s impairment at the time of the accident to pursue punitive compensation on behalf of the injured victim. For cases involving alcohol, the process of measuring blood alcohol content and calculating the impairment level on a driver based on their height and weight is well documented. Other evidence of alcohol impairment that could be useful in a claim for punitive damages includes:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Inability to perform the nystagmus test
- Inability to walk in a straight line
- Slurred speech
- Alcoholic-smelling breath
In addition to toxicology reports, these kinds of observations made by the responding police officer could be included in a compelling civil case to penalize a driver for alcohol intoxication. However, proving impairment by other drugs, such as cannabis, can be more difficult due to a lack of precedent. A knowledgeable lawyer could inform someone seeking punitive damages on the most recent testing procedures and court cases for establishing drug impairment in Elgin car accident cases.
How do Punitive Damages Affect Insurance Coverage?
When filing for punitive damages, a plaintiff will need to know the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver. If the other driver is uninsured, an injured victim cannot pursue reimbursement from an adverse insurance company.
Additionally, it is important to note that most personal injury cases involve negligence rather than the type of deliberate or reckless behavior that warrants punitive damages. Driver mistakes or carelessness can be covered by the at-fault party’s insurance, but willful wanton misconduct is specifically excluded from coverage. However, a claim against a driver could include damages for both negligence and wanton misconduct.
In these cases, the insurance company may defend the whole case but will often advise their insured client that they will not pay for any judgment based on a punitive claim. Often, the defendant may also retain a private attorney to help minimize damages that are uncovered by their insurance. As such, a plaintiff should work with their own attorney who has experience handling the legal dynamics of punitive claims.
Ask Our Attorneys about Punitive Damages for Elgin Car Accidents
Injuries and losses from a traffic collision can be devastating, and even more so when the incident involved intentional or malicious behavior. If you believe your case may warrant retributive measures, ask our legal team about punitive damages for Elgin car accidents. Call the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today to set up a free consultation.