While punitive damages in St. Louis car accident cases are rare, an attorney can still help you seek them if your claim warrants such. Attorneys can take the steps necessary to review your claim, investigate the accident, and prepare depositions for court that could help you achieve the maximum compensation you need. However, this process starts first and foremost with a call to a local attorney. Start your claims process by speaking with an experienced trial lawyer.
How St. Louis Regards and Awards Punitive Damages
Punitive damages, also referred to in Missouri as exemplary damages, are awarded as a punishment or a deterrence against a wrongdoer for the injuries you suffered. As a deterrence, individuals or companies may feel less inclined to act in a manner similar to what landed them in the legal situation they are currently in. If a victim’s attorney proves during the course of the litigation that there were aggravating factors that caused the crash in which a victim was injured, the judge may permit them to pursue punitive damages.
However, punitive damages are not awarded often, but in certain instances where the wrongdoer’s conduct is so egregious, you may be permitted to request that the jury award punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages.
Circumstances Under Which Punitive Awards May Be Sought
In a car wreck case involving two private individuals, it is unlikely that there would be an award for punitive damages against the negligent driver. Punitive damages are designed to punish and deter and are generally not awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was simply negligent. When a driver acts negligently or carelessly and causes an accident that results in injuries to one or more individuals, that driver may be held responsible for economic and non-economic damages suffered by those injured, but that negligent person would most likely not be subject to punitive damages. There would need to be aggravating circumstances involved, something that goes beyond just the mere act of negligence, such as gross negligence, recklessness, or a willful disregard for the safety of others.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded, although in the realm of car accidents, they are more common when a commercial vehicle is involved and there is evidence that the driver of the commercial vehicle or the company that owns the vehicle cut corners, failed to provide adequate repairs, failed to have good brakes on their vehicle, or failed to keep the vehicle in a safe condition in order to maintain a higher profit. Punitive damages in St. Louis car accident cases like these could be sought, but you need the help of an experienced trial lawyer to do so.
Influential Components to Punitive Awards in St. Louis Car Wreck Cases
The largest influencing factor for punitive awards is whether or not the wrongdoer acted in a manner that exceeds mere negligence. For you, certain factors that could influence an award of punitive damages could include whether or not the wrongdoer was drunk driving or decided to drink or take drugs and then drive a vehicle. In commercial cases, where a vehicle owned by a company and driven by an employee of the company, punitive damages may be a factor if there is evidence that the company or driver refused to keep their vehicle in good working order for the purpose of saving money or increasing profit.
How an Attorney in St. Louis Can Help You Recover Punitive Compensation
In a Missouri punitive damages case, the work for one of our trial lawyers starts long before the case ever goes to trial. A good and knowledgeable lawyer can thoroughly investigate each case, interview potential witnesses, and aggressively pursue collection of documents in efforts to determine if the defendant’s conduct reaches the level to seek punitive damages. When a lawyer believes there is enough information to pursue additional discovery on punitive damages, the information has to be presented to the judge who would then either allow or not allow punitive damages discovery. However, punitive damages in St. Louis car accident cases are rare, and because of this, you need to speak with a trial lawyer who can help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.