While some car accidents have simple causes, other accidents may be caused by negligent or malicious behavior. If you believe the other driver was reckless behind the wheel, you should speak with a car wreck injury attorney in San Antonio about pursuing punitive damages.
Pursuing Punitive Damages in Car Wreck Injury Lawsuits
Punitive damages in Texas may be awarded in car accident cases involving severe personal injury or wrongful death. In general, punitive damages are intended to punish the liable party for egregious conduct. Your car wreck injury attorney in San Antonio may encourage you to seek punitive damages so you will receive full compensation for all of your injuries and damages.
Examples of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are awarded in a lawsuit when there is convincing evidence the other driver’s misconduct inflicted harm that caused your injuries. In a car accident case, examples of misconduct are generally related to malice, which is acting with specific intent to cause harm, or negligence, which can include acting with indifference to the welfare and safety of other people on the road. Visit this page to learn how a lawyer can use evidence to prove your car accident claim.
Drunk driving can cause serious accidents and major injuries. The legal blood-alcohol concentration limit in Texas is 0.08%, although having a BAC of 0.15% or more may also qualify as excessive. If the other driver involved in your accident also has previous DUI charges or a revoked driver’s license, you may be able to seek punitive damages.
All drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road, so violating traffic laws with excessive speeding can be considered indifference to the safety of other people on the road. Excessive speeding is sometimes related to street racing and driving while intoxicated.
Aggressive driving behaviors, like road rage, might prove that the other driver’s misconduct was related to malice. Examples of aggressive driving include high beam headlight use, lack of signal use, lane blocking, tailgating, and laying on the car horn excessively. Road rage may involve yelling, aggressive eye contact, hand gestures, and assault.
Driving an Unsafe Vehicle
Some drivers may knowingly operate a vehicle that is considered unsafe by vehicle inspection standards set by the vehicle manufacturer or state laws. For example, driving a vehicle with worn-out brakes or driving a vehicle without functioning lights can be very unsafe for other drivers on the road. Driving an unsafe vehicle could be considered a negligent act.
Compensation Caps on Punitive Damages
Texas has compensation caps for punitive damages, except in cases that involve a felony. Punitive damages in your case will be set by one of two limitations. The first is that damages must not be more than two times the amount of economic damages and an equal amount of non-economic damages, the total of which should not exceed $750,000. The second limitation is that your punitive damages should not be greater than $200,000.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to file a car accident lawsuit in Texas is two years from the day the accident occurred. Ultimately, this means you have two years from your accident to come to a settlement with an insurance company or file a lawsuit against the other driver for punitive damages.
Can Punitive Damages Be Determined During a Settlement?
Since proving punitive damages requires a great deal of proof, your case will likely have to go to court if you want to seek punitive damages from the other driver. When your lawyer presents clear and convincing evidence of punitive damages to the court, a jury will need to unanimously vote to award punitive damages in your case. Additionally, the jury will also have to unanimously vote on the compensation amount for these damages.
Compensation Your Car Wreck Injury Attorney in San Antonio Can Help You Seek
Punitive damages make up only a small portion of the compensation you may be awarded after a car accident. The bulk of your compensation will likely be economic damages, which are damages that can be easily tracked and calculated. Examples of economic damages include vehicle repair, restoration, or replacement costs, loss of income, medical bills, and other financial burdens.
Your lawyer may also argue for non-economic damages to be awarded in your case, particularly if you have suffered a severe injury that has a direct impact on your quality of life. Non-economic damages include emotional anguish, trauma, physical pain, and suffering. Unlike punitive damages, there are no compensation caps for economic and non-economic damages in car accident cases.
If there is evidence that the other driver involved in your accident was negligent or had malicious intent, you may be able to sue for punitive damages. Car accident cases involving road rage and drunk driving may warrant compensation for punitive damages. A lawyer can examine the details of your case to determine if punitive damages are possible for your car accident claim.