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Many car accident victims are curious about punitive damages - and for good reason. Punitive damages are often awarded in large amounts, and Illinois does not cap punitive damages. It is not unheard of for punitive damages to reach millions of dollars, although they can be much lower depending on the facts of the case.
The reality, however, is that only a small number of car crash cases will qualify for punitive damages.
Definition of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are awarded in order to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages are meant to deter future bad conduct by the at-fault party and by others in the at-fault party’s position.
Generally, the purpose of a lawsuit (and any settlement negotiations) is to put the accident victims in the same place they were before the accident occurred. Punitive damages fall outside this purpose.
Most damages typically awarded in a car wreck suit are called “compensatory” damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim.
Occasionally and judge or jury will decide that the at-fault party should be punished because his or her actions are especially egregious. This is where punitive damages would be appropriate.
Illinois Law On Punitive Damages
As previously mentioned, punitive damages are not available in every case. Indeed, they are rare.
They are only appropriate in a personal injury context where a party’s conduct is intentional or willful and wanton. This means that the at fault party’s conduct must be reprehensible.
For example, the fault involved in a typical car accident will not rise to the level of reprehensible behavior that would call for punitive damages. However, if the driver who caused the accident was highly inebriated or had a history of drinking and driving, such circumstances may call for punitive damages. Impaired driving is one of the only types of driving conduct that will invoke the possibility of punitive damages.
Other Damages You May Be Eligible For
Even if punitive damages are not at issue, as a car accident victim you are still entitled to other types of monetary awards, including:
Call a DuPage County, IL Car Crash Lawyer
If you have been in a car accident where you believe punitive damages may be appropriate or if you were injured and need medical care, you should meet with an attorney to evaluate your case. To set up your initial meeting, contact the knowledgeable Hinsdale, IL auto accident attorney at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio at 630-920-8855 today.